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Full text of "James Stephens, chief organizer of the Irish republic. Embracing an account of the origin and progress of the Fenian brotherhood. Being a semi-biographical sketch of James Stephens, with the story of his arrest and imprisonment; also his escape from the British authorities"

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James Stephens, ^ 








Carleton, Publisher, 413 Broadway. 



Entered, according to Act of Congi-ess, in the yea? 1S66, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the 
Southern District tvf JSIew York. 

The New York Printis« Company, 

81, 83, and 85 Centre Street, 

New York. 


A *' Biography of James Stephens" cannot yet 
be written, for his life has not yet terminated, and 
his work is not accomplished. Kor can the " His- 
tory of Fenianism" be indited while the freedom 
of Ireland from British rule is an unaccomplished 
fact. He who shall write the one, must neces- 
sarily indite the other. At the present time, a 
brief sketch of the work performed by the one, 
and the progress made by the other, may serve 
to throw some light upon the condition of Ireland 
and assist in her redemption. 

There will, doubtless, be found some inaccura- 
cies in this little book, but the material points of 
which it treats are substantially correct. In the 
absence of any official records to which to refer, 
the author has been compelled to rely mainly 
upon oral statements, and the current newspaper 
reports of the day for his facts. By condensing, 


BiCling, and collatin*^ tlicsc, ho lias striven to 
write as near tlie truth as possible. 

There are some faults of omission as well as 
commission in this narrative. While there are 
yet a hundred thousand Irishmen in their native 
land, who have been identified with the recent 
revolutionary movement there, it would be man- 
ifestly improper to relate the facts which would 
com])romise them and subject them to penalties 
])rovidcd by English law. 

Conscientiously using the material Avithin his 
reach, the author has CTulcavorcd to deal fairly 
with all parties interested. That his efforts may 
contribute towards developing among Irishmen 
in America a pure and holy sympathy for their 
miibrtunate country, and serve to persuade them 
to more united efibrts, is his most fervent wish. 

New York, May 2Sih, 18G6. 



The few pages which arc to introduce a brief 
sketch of the hte of the Litest Irish (;onH|)irator, and 
the story of the organi/:ition of wliic.h he is tlie 
head and heart, arc a(hlressed less to Irishjiien, tlian 
to those whose idea of Irish grievances is indefinite 
— to those who, with but a vague knowledge of 
either the country or her wrongs, and an imperfect 
one of her people, yet leap at the wish to set her 
free of English rule, more from an intuitive know- 
ledge that freedom is her light, than from conclu- 
sions forced upon them by familiarity with her 
history. And to that other class, by individual 
members of which the question is often asked, 
" But wl>at has Ireland to complain of now ? is she 
not an integral portion of the British em])ire, duly 
represented in its government, and sharing in its 
influence and progress?" To these it ought to be 
enough to say, " read Irish history ;" more than 
enough to say, " you cannot get these two nations 
to work smoothly together ; fire and ice are scarcely 
less congenial ; centuries of experimenting have 
failed to discover the aflinities; centuries of subjec- 
tion and efforts at amalgamation have failed to 
break down the barriers dividing them." The Eng- 


lisli and the Irish people remain this day as dis- 
tinct in each characteristic feature as any two 
nationaUties in existence. The Irish have within 
themselves all the elements of independence, all the 
elements of becoming a useful if not a powerful 
member of the family of nations. It can be no 
longer doubted that it is the wish of this people to 
be independent ; they struggle for it, and are discon- 
tented failing to secure it. What American can 
withhold his respect for that discontent ? Freedom 
is this people's right, and this alone ought to be 
argument enough for the wisdom of their dis- 

If a people through successive generations fail to 
appreciate the beneficence of a government which, 
in the first instance, was forced upon them, and 
ever since sustained by brute force only, opposed to 
their solemn and reiterated protest, and in defiance 
of repeated outbreak (whether all this be a result 
of their ingratitude, their obstinacy, or their want 
of appreciation of the blessings of such obtrusive 
friendship, it matters little) ; it must be accepted as 
evidence of the want of that integrity of parts so 
necessary to the peace and prosperity of a nation as 
a whole. 

To all students of Irish history, it is known that 
there is no chapter there unmarked by protest in 
some shape or other against English rule ; not a few 
of them written in the blood of the malcontents ; in 
fact, the only history that Ireland has to show for 
centuries is the story of her successive protests 
against what she takes the liberty to call the usurpa- 
tion of her government by English rulers. Let us 


sketch in a sentence or two the story of these 

With the presence of Strongbow on Irish soil 
began the struggle between the English and Irish 
people, lashed into fury at times, with periods of 
calm intervening, for over four hundred years. Then 
came the conquest of the gentle Mountjoy, who 
boasted that he gave to his no more tender- 
hearted mistress " a country of carcasses and ashes." 
A period of churchyard silence here succeeds, but a 
resurrection follows it, and the tongue which is 
spoken is still the language of the Celt. Elizabeth 
gave place to James, and James to Charles. Charles 
gave his head to Cromwell. The English people 
were under the iron heel of the Dictator, but the 
Irish, the resuscitated Irish, were in rebellion ! Again 
the spoiler was upon them. This time the work of 
devastation was complete ; fire and sword had sway 
unlimited ; lands were laid waste ; homesteads pil- 
laged, and, in the name of God, the followers of 
Cromwell possessed themselves of Irish maids, and 
lands and gold, and made her rich soil richer 
still with the blood of her slaughtered sons. This 
time she is not only dead but buried. Before, like 
the son of the widow of Nain, she had arisen from 
the bed of death. This time she is entombed. But 
even from out the grave, dug by the swords of mer- 
ciless soldiery, she once more emerges ; the stone is 
rolled away for her resurrection, and she stands again 
to battle for her nationality. She protests once more 
against England's rule and England's king, and fights 
with a broken sword against William of ISTassau and 
his hireling soldiery. This time she is not beaten, 


but she capitulates, and the treaty of Limerick is 
signed. For the right to worship God after the fashion 
of their fathers, the Irish laid down their arms. 
With or without arms they still protest. The 
father who succumbed begat sons to whom he left 
the legacy of his hate. The English, no more faith- 
ful then than they are now, and the record of their 
truthfulness is fresh upon our memories, taking advan- 
tage of the first symptoms of another protest, broke 
through the sworn-to treaty, and enacted through 
their tools in the so-called Irish Parliament the ac- 
cursed penal laws, the prominent features of which 
may be written as follows : 

Catholics were excluded from every profession 
except the medical, and from all official stations 
without exception. 

Catholic children could only be educated by Pro- 
testant teachers at home, and it was highly penal to 
send them abroad for education. 

Catholics were forbidden to exercise trade or 
commerce in any corporate town. 

Catholics were legally disqualified to hold leases 
of land for a longer tenure than thirty-one years, 
and also disqualified to inherit the lands of Protest- 
ant relatives. 

A Catholic could not legally possess a horse of 
greater value than five pounds, and any true Protest- 
ant meeting a Catholic with a horse worth fifty or 
sixty pounds, might lay down the legal jDrice of five, 
unhorse the idolater, and ride away. 

A Catholic child, turning Protestant, could sue 
its parents for maintenance, to be determined by a 
Protestant Court of Chancery. 


A Catholic's eldest son turning Protestant re- 
duced his father to a tenant-for-life, the reversion to 
the convert. 

A Catholic priest could not celebrate mass under 
severe penalties ; but he who recanted was secured 
.a stipend by law. 

That this code wrought long and well is a well- 
known story. This monster, begotten on Irish soil, 
a lineal descendant of the Reformation, a child of 
the " glorious revolution," did its work bravely. As 
Burke says of it : " It was a machine of wise and 
deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppres- 
sion, impoverishment, and degradation of a people, 
and the debasement in them of human nature itself, 
as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of 

It did its work bravely indeed. Hear how the 
seventeenth century ended : 

" The manufacture of wool into cloth had been totally destroyed 
by law. Acts of the British and Irish Parliament (the latter being 
wholly subject to the former) prohibited the export of woollen 
cloth from Ireland to any country whatsoever except to England 
and "Wales. The exception was delusive, because duties amount- 
ing to a prohibition prevented the Irish cloth from entering Eng- 
land or "Wales. Before that time Ireland had a good trade in 
woollen drapery with foreign countries, and undersold the Eng- 
lish Therefore the British Parliament addressed King "Wilham, 
urging him to suppress the traffic. Tlie House of Lords used this 
language : * "Wherefore we most humbly beseech your most sacred 
Majesty that your Majesty would be pleased, in the most public 
and effectual way that may be, to declare to all your subjects in 
Ireland that the growth and increase of the woollen manufactures 
there hath long been and will bo ever looked upon with great 
jealousy by all your subjects of this kingdom, and if not timely re- 
medied may occasion very strict laws totally to prohibit it and 
suppress the same.' King William, the Deliverer, replied that he 
would do his utmost to ruin his Irish subjects. ' He would do all 
that in him lay to discourage the woollen manufactures of Ireland ;' 
and he was as good as his word. 



Now, for a hundred years, Catholic Ireland is 
gagged ; but she still protests against British mis- 
rule with the Protestant tongues of Swift, and Lucas, 
and Molyneux. It was not necessary for the mother 
to be Catholic that hate for England might mingle 
with that mother's milk ; it was only necessary for 
her to be Irish. English cupidity, and the monopo- 
lies born of it, did their work ; the country was im- 
poverished ; the people were swept to their graves 
by the thousand. No coroner's jury tells the story 
of their dying, but it is written in a language as in- 
delible as the stars — " starvation." 

The century drew near its close ; a generation had 
passed away without a sign. The Protestant element 
was a strong one now, but it was Irish Protestant. 
The thunders of Napoleon's cannon were echoed by 
the cliffs of Dover — England was in clanger. Pro- 
testant Ireland v^as appealed to, and she answered 
with eighty thousand bayonets. The Frenchmen 
did not come, and the bayonets were no longer 
needed. But in the meantime, " England's difficulty 
was Ireland's opportunity." The star of the unhappy 
land rose above the horizon for an hour. Backed by 
these eighty thousand bayonets, an independent par- 
liament made laws in College Green, and for a space 
she gloried in her ancient title of the " Sovereign 
Kingdom of Ireland." Then upon Irish cannon was 
the motto, " Free trade or else" — that free trade 
meaning the right of the Irish people to regulate 
their commerce as best suited Irish, not English, in- 
terests ; the right to levy duties for the support of 
an Irish, not an English, government. 

For eighteen years the Irish people rejoiced iu 


an independent government, obeyed the laws 
which emanated from the Parliament at Dublin, 
and prospered under the protection of its paternal 
care. Manufactories sprang up again. The pro- 
verbially discontented Irish gave respectable evi- 
dences of a love of industry and of the good 
things purchased by its exercise. The agricultural 
produce of the country found a home market in 
exchange for native manufactures. Fat cattle ceased 
to crowd the ships for English shores, and broadcloth 
ceased to be a heavy inward freight. The public 
revenues were expended at home. Dublin grew beau- 
tiful in public buildings, this day her pride and shame. 
Landlords began to stay at home and spend their 
rentals there. The beautiful city on the Liffey was 
sufficient attraction for the most fastidious, when 
she bore the prestige of independence. 

But could this state of things last ? Could Eng- 
land afford to lose so good a customer for her manu- 
factures, so good a market wherein to buy her 
beloved beef ? Could she afford to permit a rival 
shopkeeper at her very door, who, a short time 
before, had been her customer, but now threat- 
ened to share even her foreign trade, if not, from 
peculiar facilities of manufactures, drive her com- 
pletely out of the markets where she had hitherto 
held monopoly? Of course not. The rival shop- 
keeper must be crushed, not by honest competi- 
tion ; no, that would be a tedious and uncertain pro" 
cess ; but by any and every means her innate selfish- 
ness could devise by which to effect her object. With 
eighty thousand muskets to protect her neighbor's 
trade, she dare not attempt to drive her from the 


market. ISTo, but she would kill her witli kindness. 
Every concession was made ; all that Ireland asked 
was given ; England was for the first time her true 
and tender-hearted sister. Now the time was 
come when the peaceful relations of the world, 
and especially of these two loving sisters, asked 
for the disbanding of this great army of Irish 
volunteers. The English standing army was suf- 
ficient for protection of the " Sister Islands." The 
confiding Irish believed the story, and the volun- 
teers were disbanded. This was the initiatory step 
to the " Act of Union." But the proposed union 
was unpalatable to the people. Even a corrupt 
Parliament, which might be cleansed some day, in 
Dublin, was better than a sixth of the representa- 
tion in the London one. The scheme, however, 
which began with the disbanding of the volunteers 
could not end there; the union must be accom- 
plished. The premature rising of '98 was brought 
about. By what villanies generated and how 
fomented is but too well known, as is the story of 
the sacrifice which left its blood-stain upon many a 
threshold. England had conquered once again ; 
terrorism was rampant ; public meetings were dis- 
persed by the soldiery; the national press was 
bribed ; a muzzled and a hireling one hed its utmost ; 
the Irish Parliament was packed with English 
instruments, and by corruption and intimidation 
the Act of Union was carried.* 

The twenty years which followed were twenty 

* For the modus operandi by which this Act was brought to a 
successful issue, read the black list appended to Sir Jonah Bar- 
rington's "Kise and Fall of the Irish Nation." 


years of prostration of spirit, of lingering death to 
manufacture, of concentration of all power in Eng- 
land, and of an exodus from Ireland of that wealth 
which, expended at home, had given stimulus to 
trade and confidence to the people. Gloom and 
poverty settled down upon the land, till 1817 found 
the people again dying of starvation. Many of the 
inhabitants of the Western and North-western 
coasts dragged out a miserable existence on sea- 
weed, and to thousands potatoes were a luxury ; 
the people died by wholesale of famine-fever, not 
in the poorer districts only, but in the best counties 
in the country. During this famine and that of 
1822, and the intervening years, most strange to 
stay, the English peasant throve and fattened ; there 
was no fever cloud to fling its shadow over his 
happy fields; English looms were busy and her 
artisans were fed. 

What ! had Providence stricken Irish fields with 
barrenness in condemnation of her near-sighted- 
ness ? Had it cursed her with famine for her folly ? 
1^0 ; strange to say, there was neither murrain 
among the cattle nor a blight upon the wheat, 
but the poor of the towns were unemployed ; there 
was food, but not the means to buy it. English 
looms were musical, Irish looms were rotten with 
disuse. The petty manufactures had followed the 
greater ones, and shops were closed, for the custom- 
ers had gone, and the money with them, to the 
theatres of power and place in England. I^o, there 
was no dearth of food ; a loaf might be had for six- 
pence, as in preceding years, but there was no six- 
pence to buy withal. In 1817 there were exported 


to England from Ireland over 700,000 quarters of 
grain alone, and vast herds of cattle; and in 1822, 
over one million quarters of grain. Did the money 
come back to Ireland for all this ? Oh, no ; it stayed 
in England to pay the rent, or followed to the Con- 
tinent the landlords who had forsaken their homes, 
and entrusted the paternal cares of their estates to 
the management of their agents and their tenants 
to their mercy. On the debate in the House of 
Commons in 1822, "William Cobbett, an honest 
Englishman, writes in this fashion : — 

" Money, it seems, is wanted in Ireland. Now people do not 
eat money. No ; but the money will buy them something to eat. 
Whatl the food is there then, pray observe this, reader, pray ob- 
serve this, and let the parties get out of the concern if they can. 
The food is there, but those who have it in their possession will 
not give it without the money. And we know that the food is 
there; for since this famine has been declared in Parliament, 
thousands of quarters of corn have been imported every week from 
Ireland to England." 

The records of this time alone are so accursed 
that could Irishmen forget the tyrannies of six hun- 
dred years preceding, their hopes of vengeance dare 
not perish whilst this one memory remains. Starva- 
tion in the midst of plenty. Persecuted thus in body, 
as they had been in spirit for centuries ; famished in 
the midst of fruitful fields, and their souls restrict- 
ed under penalty to orthodox devotion, did they 
drop upon their knees and cry peccavi ? prostrate 
themselves and place their necks within the English 
halter? Oh no! they had not done joro^es^m^ yet- 
Then was the birth-time, among the moderate 
and the cowardly, of the Catholic Relief Agitation, 
and amongst the more earnest, because most suffer- 
ing, ofRibbonism and the Society of the Whiteboys. 


Catholic emancipation was conceded to the former 
in 1829; and this concession to the manes of their 
fathers, who tasted the first rigors of the penal laws, 
and of the hunted priests who died by them, satis- 
fied for a time the sick at heart, but failed to bring 
a soothing bahn to the bulk of the people, in whom 
the music of their church bells, heard for the first 
time in centuries, could not drown for ever the dy- 
ing groans of the massacred and the famished that 
filled up the space between. 

It is known the part which O'Connell took in the 
agitation which led to the emancipation of the 
Catholics, as it is known the hold which from that time 
he had upon the affections of the Irish people. A peri- 
od of rest now follows, or, what was worse, of peace- 
ful agitation. The Precursor Society was followed 
by that organization, having O'Connell for its leader, 
and for its object the repeal of the "Act of Union," 
How O'Connell manoeuvred the passions of the Irish 
people, and how he in turn was manoeuvred and be- 
praised by that people's enemies, whose game he 
played, is a painful story within the memories of 
most of us. But there came a time when the people's 
heart grew sick with the hope deferred, for the 
" Repeal" which had been promised them as the 
fruit of each incoming session of Parliament grew no 
more certain as the years went by, but the ruin of 
the country grew more certain daily. The monster 
meetings of 1843, in the might of their 7norao 
strength, had failed to intimidate the English 
Government, and O'Connell was afraid (whether 
for Mmself or for the people, God knows) to use the 
power he held to awake that physical force which 


he might have controlled at will, and, as his country- 
men then and now believe, directed to success. 

But the paternal government was in action during 
all this time, in its own way, for Irish amelioration. 
Laws had been enacted disfranchising the holders of 
petty freeholds ; their votes no longer available to 
their landlords, they were swept from their misera- 
ble homesteads by the thousand. To make eject- 
ment in every shape of easy execution, laws un- 
known to the English Common Law were made and 
put in force, resulting in the desired consolidation of 
farms, and in the pauperism of the ejected. Li 1846 
the famine came, and the country was ripe for it ; 
ripe for the harvest of death, and the reaper. Hea- 
ven knows, had a busy time of it. The story of 
that horror, the Irish famine, is as well known in 
America as it is in Ireland. A famine which swept 
into untimely graves a million people. A famine in a 
land from which had been exported the year before 
over $80,000,000 worth of produce to England; 
and in one day of the self-same year, 1847, shipped 
for the London market over eleven thousand quar- 
ters of wheat. From Newry alone, within five days, 
in the end of September, there sailed eleven ships 
for England laden with grain, exchisive of two large 
steamers, which sailed four times a week, laden with 
cattle, eggs, and butter. From Drogheda, that same 
week, were shipped 1,200 cows, 3,500 sheep and 
swine, 2,000 quarters of grain, 211 tons of flour and 
meal, butter, eggs, and lard. From Waterford, in 
the same week, 250 tons of flour, 1,100 sheep and 
pigs, 308 head of cattle, 5,400 barrels of wheat and oats, 
'7,'700 firkins of butter, and 2,000 flitches of bacon ; 


and all the while the cry for bread arose on every acre. 
Parents, mad with hunger, struggled with their fa- 
mished children for the morsel of food which charity 
or chance had brought them. Hundreds died upon 
their hearthstones without a cry. In many places, 
including entire villages, the living were too weak 
to bury their brethren who had died from hunger. 
On the island of Innisbofin, off the coast of Galway, 
may be seen this day, among the ruins of an old 
chapel there, and lying in a corner, a pile of human 
bones, the skeletons of those who were carried to 
that consecrated spot by the poor old priest of the 
island. There were not men enough on the island 
who were able to give burial to the dead. Along 
the coast of Conemara, the people lived for many 
months exclusively on seaweed and such fish as they 
were able to obtain. And so it was on the coasts 
of Donegal and Antrim. Even in prosperous Bel- 
fast, men and women quarrelled along the quays for 
the particles of grain — drippings from the bags of 
the cargoes of corn being delivered. In one au- 
thenticated instance, an infant was found seeking 
sustenance from the breast of its mother, w^ho had 
died of hunger, and alone. 

Starvation was checked by the munificent charity 
of America, and by the generous contributions of 
other nations. Still the people were swept off by 
tens of thousands by starvation in the midst of plenty, 
whilst those who were able, fled to America, aided in 
that effort by the instrumentality of their relatives 
here, or by the sale of the few acres which they 
owned, or of their lease, if they were fortunate 
enough to have one. 


Those who remained, starving or approa^'hing beg- 
gary or starvation, still solemnly protested. The 
cry for indei^endence, as a cure for all their ills, rose 
loud and long above the shrieks of famine. The 
bubble of peaceful agitation burst about O'Connell's 
ears, and out of the ashes of the party agitating for 
Repeal sprang the " Irish Confederation." O'Connell 
died. The French Revolution burst upon startled 
Europe. The down-trodden nations of the world 
dreamed that the star of their redemption had arisen. 
The people of Ireland looked for a new Redeemer 
from the east! Revolutionary clubs were formed 
in every town and hamlet. The young men of 
Ireland, irrespective of creed, or the difference of 
opinion as to the means to accomplish their country's 
freedom, w^hich they had hitherto indulged in, shook 
hands as brothers and prepared themselves for the 
coming conflict. Arras were purchased in con- 
siderable numbers, and smithies were busy night and 
day in the manufacture of pike-heads. Treason was 
taught openly in the speeches of Meagher, O'Brien, 
Martin, Traitor McGee, Mitchel and a host of others, 
and in the pages of The Vnited Irishynen and The Na- 
tion. The peaceful Protestant north was armed to 
the teeth, guns and pikes were hidden among the 
brick-fields near the manufacturing towns and in hay- 
ricks throughout the country. The people were 
ripe and ready once again. Then came the counter- 
action of the government — the arming of the Orange 
lodges ; the industrious spread of the story, through 
a paid press, that the purpose of the confederates was 
that of the communists of France — subversion of 
all order and religion. Regiments poured in from 


England ; artillery was paraded through the streets of 
Dublin. An act was passed by a large majority 
providing "that any one who should levy war 
against the Queen, or endeavor to deprive her of 
her title, or by open or advised speaking, printing, 
or publishing, incite others to the same, should be 
deemed guilty of felony and transported." 

Then followed the arrest of O'Brien, Meagher, 
and Mitchel, on a charge of sedition. Unable to 
find a jury sufficiently venal for their purpose, the 
prisoners wqtq discharged. Mitchel was again 
arrested, prosecuted under the new act, and, with a 
new packed jury, was convicted and sentenced to 
transportation. The day on which Mitchel was to 
be taken from his prison, in Dublin, to undergo his 
sentence of transportation, was to have been that for 
a general outbreak. But this was in May ; the crops 
were in the fields, not in the haggards ; and a rising, 
it was deemed by many, ought only to be made in 
the harvest-time, when the people could find sus- 
tenance on the field ; in the food within their reach. 
The leaders of the party, therefore, advised the wait- 
ing to the harvest-time. They waited; but the 
delay was fatal. Taken at that hour when the true 
pulse of Ireland beat steadily ; when the police were 
rebellious to the heart's core, and not an Irish soldier 
in the country who w^as not ready to turn his bay- 
onet towards an English breast, the countrj^ would 
have burst into a flame, and Ireland would have 
profited by the best chance she had had for freedom 
in centuries. Whatever the result, that was her one 
great chance — she allowed it to pass her by. 

Troops were poured in in additional numbers ; 


newspapers were suppressed ; martial law was pro- 
claimed ; diligent search was made for arms in 
every direction ; weapons were placed in the hands of 
northern loyalists. Conservative flax-spinners and 
manufacturers pledged their workmen against secret 
societies. The appliances to put out the fire were 
manifold and successful ; for, when the harvest came, 
came with it the miserable failure at an outbreak, 
and, following it, the arrest and banishment of many 
of the leaders. So ended the^^ro^es^ of '48. 

" Now, surely," said the critics, who had written 
up this drama and spoken in terms of praise or blame 
of the actors therein, as their pay or spirit moved 
them ; " now, surely, these Irish will wind up their 
national performance with this last act, the last 
scene of which is sufficiently tragical for a respecta- 
ble denouement." " Surely," cried the English 
taskmasters, "these whipped hounds will howl to 
kennel and obey the lash." " Surely," said the 
peaceful priests, "good people, you must see that 
God is not with you in all this thing ; be peaceful, 
be contented. Have you not a college where your 
priests are taught some Latin, and learn to swear 
allegiance with the vow of celibacy? Have you 
not a National school system where, with a little 
fighting on our part, but a few of you are perverted, 
and the rest but gradually Anglicised ? What, if 
you persist in being a virtuous and prolific race, 
have you not the privilege to take your surplus 
selves to America, and your blessed pastor with you ? 
God bless us all ! it might be worse. There was a 
time when it was worse. I tell you, there was a 
time when they would have shot me for saying mass, 


or for shriving the soul of a dying sinner ; now I can 
say mass in the broad daylight, and you can kneel 
before nie till my blessing, to reach you all, has to 
pass out through the open door, for you are too poor to 
build a house for God and yourselves and me, God 
help you. But this is a wonderful change, my chil- 
dren. Bless God, starve a little, and be contented." 

For a time it looked as if the critics were in 
the right ; the curtain seemed indeed to have fallen 
on the last act of the Irish revolutionary drama. 
Wily diplomatists in England and the representa- 
tives of English rule, and the recipients of English 
bribes in Ireland, the Castle Hacks in Dublin, and 
the city shopkeepers who scrambled for viceregal 
pence, and the Orangemen of the north, and the 
Irish gentlemen, with English names and English 
proclivities, who had invested capital in spinning- 
mills and looms and bleach-mills on the banks 
of the Lagan and the Bann, all these rubbed to- 
gether their exultant palms and thanked Heaven 
(no they didn't, they never thought of Heaven), and 
congratulated each other at the death and burial of 
Old Ireland and of Young Ireland just consummated. 

N'ow suppose we rested here, has not proof 
enough been given of incompatibility of temper as be- 
tween this English and this Irish people to ask the 
world's verdict for divorce ? Whom God hath not 
put together man may break asunder. What need 
to write grievances, which even the few Conserva- 
tives in Ireland complain of, to show the inj ustice ot 
the one contracting party ? But let us see if there 
remained not some cause of discontent for even 
those who loved not revolution, and ignored the 


proposition that their country was compelled to a 
relationship with another, which she hated, and who 
reciprocated the emotion. Yes, even these quarrelled 
at a state of things which had led to the loss by Ire- 
land of her position as a manufacturing country, and 
to her absolute dependence on England for manu- 
factures in exchange for her agricultural produce — 
and at the subjection of the people to a landlord 
class, of English descent and English affiliation 
whose first and last duty was the exercise of a per- 
petual drainage upon their tenantry, that they might 
spend the proceeds in that country of their affection 
(the rental estimated as paid to absentee landlords 
being about thirty millions of dollars annually), and 
that, as a matter of necessity, paid in the produce of 
the soil — and at the existence of a State Church, 
sustained by the presence of British bayonets (pol- 
ished and kept in point by Irish taxes), only for the 
especial comfort of English clergymen, the younger 
sons of English aristocrats, or older ones, who, from 
deficiency in mental gifts, were supposed to be fit- 
ted for nothing better, and thrown into the well 
feathered bosom of the Church in Ireland — and at 
the collection and absorption of the revenues of Ire- 
land by English officials, who, having amassed for- 
tunes amidst Irish poverty, retired for their enjoy- 
ment to their native island, or their expedition to 
the Continent, giving place to others of their kin- 
dred to begin and end in doing likewise — and 
at the presence in the country of from twenty 
to fifty thousand British soldiers, a militia at the 
beck and call of the English Government, a 
police force of ten thousand men supposed to be 


loyal also, and supported by an over-burdened and 
impoverished people — and, to sum up, at the state of 
things to which all this gave rise, which, while they 
had no hand in it, in fact ignored it altogether, was 
a state of things these peace-preserving, patient, 
peaceful, conservative people did not like ; we mean 
that state of feeling all around them which was fos- 
tered in secret societies, and which any day again 
might develop itself in outbreak and rebellion ; in 
fact, a state of terrorism which they feared had as- 
sumed a chronic character, and which, alas! (said 
they) was ruinous to all projects for the develop- 
ment and industrial progress of the country. So 
those who were most content had, at least, all these 
things to complain of. 

For a time it looked as if the priests were right, 
and that the people thought so. Submission to the 
powers that be, was a doctrine easy to preach and 
of easy practice, and the rendering unto Caesar of 
the things that are Caesar's was easy too, for there 
was but little to give him now, and he was kind 
enough to come and take it. 

Well, it is now eighteen years since the protest of 
'48 ; what has been going on since then ? Since then 
the happy Irish people have been flying from a 
country for which they have given some evidences 
of their affection, as if their God had left it ; per- 
haps He has, and they have set out ujDon a pilgrim- 
age to find Him. 

The population of Ireland in 1846 numbered nine 
million souls ; to-day it is estimated at four millions 
five hundred thousand. Of these, three millions 
have found a home in America ; for the balance, and 


the natural increase unaccounted for, ask Ireland's 
guardians, and the Poor Law guardians, and the 
graveyards without walls (they are too wide for 
that), in Skull, and Skibbereen, and Connemara, and 
the ditches at whose side the starving wretches lay 
down and died in Donegal. 

Whole villages have disappeared; homesteads 
which had stood for a hundred years or more have 
fallen in the south and west in every parish, and 
stone fences have been piled up from their rums to 
keep in herds of sheep for the English market as of 
old, but tended this time by English or Scotch shep- 
herds, and owned by English farmers. The whole 
agricultural portion of the country is becoming as 
rapidly Anglicised as the best diplomacy of England 
can effect for her this wished-for change. 

America is now the hope of most of the peasantry ; 
their only wish to rake out the dead ashes on their 
hearth-stones, leave the widow^'s and the orphan's and 
the exile's curse for the incoming tenant, and follow 
the star of their new destiny to the West. 

And those behind, and who must remain behind, 
what of them ? Those without the paltry means to 
pay their own and their wives' and children's passage, 
without friends on this side to give them help ? 
What of those who take things as they come — good 
and bad — and make the best of them ? What of 
those, and they are many, who would rather starve, 
or fight and die in Ireland, than live in Eden, if that 
Eden were unbounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the 
west, and on the east by the Irish Sea ? What of those 
during these eighteen years, from '48 to ''QQ'i Are 
they beaten to the ground at last ? Do they accept 


this state of things without a murmur ? Did the 
last demonstration of discontent die a miserable death 
at Ballingarry? Did their last hope for Irish re- 
demption pass away with the exiled confederates ? 
Not so, by the immortal and rebellious memories of 
Fitzgerald, of Emmet, and of Tone ! Not so, by 
the memories of the men of Forty-eight ! As faith- 
ful as the shamrock to the soil is the seed of revolution ! 
There is still another protest; and its history is 
found in the following pages, linked with the name 
of Stephens. Whatever may be the immediate fo]>N, 
tunes of the organization in which this protest has 
taken shape, whatever its trials and its sacrifices, and 
however long delayed the consummation of its pur- 
pose, let us hope that this indeed will be the last 
protest of the Irish people against English rule. 
''^TLet us hope that out of the misunderstandings and 
divisions which have unfortunately arisen among 
Irishmen in America, a perfect union may be born, 
no less strong on account of their brief estrange- 
ment ; and that plans of concerted action with their 
fellow-countrymen at home may be matured and 
brought to issue. The presence among Irishmen in 
America, who, however differing in opinion, have a 
common object in view, of the man whose whole life 
is one of sacrifice to his love of country, ought to 
smooth away all difficulties, and reunite in one com- 
mon brotherhood all patriotic Irishmen of whatever 
creed or complexion of opinion. It is as difficult to see 
how uniformity of action is to be arrived at except 
through the instrumentality of this man, as it is to 
entertain the shadow of a hope for the immediate 

delivery of Ireland without union. 



Irishmen in Ireland — those in prison there (some 
of them doomed to a long life's exile), those who, 
although not yet within the greedy grasp of English 
law, are surrounded by the snares of the spoiler, and 
those who wait with patient, hopeful hearts and 
ready arms the signal for united action — all look for- 
ward for their own and their country's salvation to 
the cooperation of their countrymen in America, with 
their envoy and chief, James Stephens. 


-swn<w ««^ '■^" 



James Stephens was born in the beautiful 
city of Kilkenny, Ireland, ^in the year 1824. His 
father was a man of considerable intelligence, who, 
in addition to his yearly income for services rendered 
as clerk, was possessed of some small property. At 
a very early age, James manifested an unusual 
thirst for knowledge, and notably a wonderful 
, aptitude for mathematics. His father took delight 
in affording him every opportunity for study. He 
required but little assistance from teachers, his 
active and inquiring mind readily seizing upon and 
comprehending the ideas laid down in the works of 
his favorite authors. From the age of sixteen to 
twenty-two he was leading the life of a recluse, 
going into society scarcely at all, forming but few 
acquaintances, and living solely with his books. He 
became thoroughly familiar with English literature, 
and also acquired great proficiency in the liberal 
sciences. His early love for mathematics had 
been amply encouraged, and he finally resolved to 
study Civil Engineering, and adopt that as his pro- 
fession. He readily obtained a position upon the 
Waterford and Limerick Railway, where his genius 
and skill soon won for him considerable distinction. 



It was about this time that Smith O'Brien be- 
came prominent as a revolutionary agitator. The 
English Government had become more arrogant 
and oppressive than ever, and Irishmen believed 
that the proper time had arrived to strike for Ire- 
land's freedom. The early education of Mr. Ste- 
phens, together with his extensive reading, had 
tended to make him a thorough Republican at 
heart. His sympathies were all enlisted in favor of 
his suffering country, but his extreme youth had 
hitherto prevented him from taking any active part 
in the agitation then progressing. The revolution- 
ary spirit of his countrymen was catered to by 
factious leaders, and there were divisions and dis- 
sensions in the ranks of the patriots. Mr. Stephens 
watched all movements with anxiety and apprehen- 
sion, holding as yet aloof from all parties, and sanc- 
tioning the policy of neither; yet resolved to act 
when the proper time should arrive. 


In 1848, Smith O'Brien's poHcy led to open hos- 
tilities, and Mr. Stephens hastened to join his gal- 
lant band. The means whereby he was introduced 
to that unfortunate patriot were peculiar. 

Mr. Patrick Donahue, from Dublin, while visiting- 
Kilkenny, conducted himself in such a manner as 
to induce certain club-men to believe that he was 
neither more nor less than a British spy. He was 
accordingly seized and subjected to a rigid exami- 
nation. Being unable to give a satisfactory account 
of himself, it was resolved to send him direct to 
Smith O'Brien under guard. The person selected 


as custodian of the suspected individual was James 
Stephens. He accordingly started for Cashel with 
his prisoner, and after much difficulty and many 
adventures, delivered him to the Revolutionary 
Chief in person; O'Brien was pleased with this 
exhibition of vigilance and zeal, and became speed- 
ily interested in Mr. Stephens. Finding in him a 
zealous patriot, an intelligent counsellor, and a 
thorough gentleman, he immediately attached him 
to his person as an aide-de-camp. The more severely 
the young man was tested, and the greater the re- 
sponsibility cast upon him, the brighter shone his 
ability and his genius. 

At the Widow McCormick's house, where the 
most serious outbreak of the '48 rebellion occurred, 
Mr. Stephens played a most conspicuous part, and 
from that day became a recognised leader of the 
people. On one occasion, during those momentous 
days of '48, at Killenaule, he, at the head of a few 
brave men, successfully defended a barricade against 
a troop of English horse, repelling their charge most 

It has been often reported, and is generally be- 
lieved, that Mr. Stephens was wounded at the en- 
gagement at the Widow McCormick's house. This 
is a mistake. The rebels being defeated at this point, 
and scattered to the four winds, their leaders sought 
safety in a retired spot a short distance from the 
scene of the day's action. It was at this latter place 
where, after the reverses which had overtaken them, 
Smith O'Brien and his chief advisers assembled. 
They were now surrounded completely by the 
British soldiers, and there seemed little doubt that 


they would all be taken prisoners at daylight next 
morning. Here were Smith O'Brien, Michael 
Doheny, John O'Mahony, Bellew McManiis, James 
Stephens, and a few other brave patriots whose 
names are dear to all Irishmen. A council of war 
was held to decide what was next to be done. The 
cause of Ireland had met with a deadly blow — the 
premature rising of a small handful of half-starved, 
unarmed peasantry, had ended in their complete 
rout, and consequent discouragement. The leaders 
appreciated the situation, and this council was to 
determine what should be their future line of con- 
duct. By remaining together they would be sure to 
fall into the hands of their enemies, while by separat- 
ing there seemed a possibility of their escape. 

After consultation, all but two of these brave 
men decided that it was useless to pursue the 
outbreak further at this time, but that a few 
weeks must be allowed to pass by for the har- 
vesting of the crops before further demonstrations 
should be made. The two who dissented from 
this policy were Terence McManus and James Ste- 
phens. They believed in action then and there, and 
volunteered to remain to the last with their chief, 
Smith O'Brien. The others determined to return to 
their several homes, and there keep alive the revolu- 
tionary spirit. 

The parting of these leaders, as each went his way 
endeavoring to escape the eye of the British police, 
was very affecting. None expected to survive the 
dangers by which they were surrounded, and the 
"farewell" stuck in the throats of most of them. 
Mr. Stephens found himself the object of the kindest 


solicitude on the part of all, on account of his youth 
and the prominent and somewhat reckless part he 
had played. O'Mahony, particularly, displayed 
great interest in him, and gave Lim directions where 
to meet him again, and what route to pursue. 


Thus they parted ; Smith O'Brien, McManus, and 
Stephens remaining where they were, the others 
departing by different roads. Mr. Stephens shortly 
learned that a body of police were on the road ap- 
proaching the house. He being provided with a 
horse, persuaded O'Brien to mount ; then taking 
from his head the plain cap he wore, exchanged it for 
the gaudy green and gold one worn by his chief, and 
entreated him to make sure his safety by flight. 
O'Brien took the advice of his devoted Aide, and 
bidding him good-by, hastened off. 

Mr. Stephens then turned his own steps towards the 
approaching police. Falling in with ten or twelve 
fugitive rebels who had been defeated in the pre- 
vious skirmish, he prevailed upon them to make a 
stand against the coming posse. He felt assured 
that if, even at that late hour, a small victory could 
be obtained, thousands would flock to his standard, 
and the rising would become general throughout 
the land. 

The "peelers" advanced upon the rebels and 
were received with a volley from the few old muskets 
which they possessed. The pursuing body returned 
the fire, killing and wounding several of the patriots. 
Those who remained uninjured immediately scat- 
tered. Mr. Stephens was among the wounded. He 


had received one bullet through the fleshy part of 
the right thigh, and another had inflicted a contu- 
sion upon the left hip, which caused him great pain. 
Seeing his comrades flying in every direction, he 
attempted to get over a ditch, when he was saluted 
with another volley from the police, several bullets 
passing through his clothes. He fell as if killed, and 
the police passed on thinking him dead, and so they 
reported to their officers and the populace. After 
having bandaged his wound and made sure that it 
was safe for him to venture forth once more, the 
wounded leader started across the fields for a neigh- 
boring town. On his way he encountered a peasant, 
with whom he exchanged clothes to prevent detection. 


A little touch of romance saved him from being 
captured and sharing the fate of O'Brien, McManus, 
and others of his comrades. While following his 
profession, he had encountered in Tipperary a young 
lady whose bright eyes had made sad havoc with the 
heart of the youthful patriot. Now, wounded, 
weary, disheartened, and an outlaw, he resolved once 
more to seek his lady-love, and receive from her one 
fond adieu before seeking O'Mahony and his fellow- 
conspirators in their retirement. He knew the 
dangers he would encounter by the way ; for the 
British soldiers and police were searching every 
nook and corner, and dragging to prison the unfor- 
tunate participants in the events of the past few 
weeks. But bright eyes lured him on, and he knew 
a hearty welcome awaited him in that distant town. 
And did he not have a beautiful precedent in the 


course pursued by one whose sorrowful history had 
ever been full of interest to him — the noble Robert 
Emmet, who, refusing to go on board the ship which 
was waiting to take him to sea until he should say 
good-by to the girl of his heart, was captured while 
receiving her last embrace, and was led away to 
prison and the scaffold ? Having this bright example 
before his eyes, young Stephens set out upon his 
journey to Tipperary, having hired a cart to trans- 
port him. At one little town through which he 
passed on the same day he found the streets full of 
excited citizens. They had heard of the fight at the 
Widow McCormick's, and rumor having given the 
victory to the rebels, the people were anxious to join 
their brothers in the field. At their head was the 
parish priest, urging them to return to their homes 
and remain quiet. Mr. Stephens listened to the 
reverend speaker a few moments, and then approach- 
ing him, demanded the privilege of speaking to the 
crowd. The priest refused to listen to him, but de- 
nounced him as a spy. Thereupon the excitement 
became intense, and the denounced individual was 
in danger of being torn to pieces. At this critical 
moment a young man in the crowd recognised Mr. 
Stephens, and throwing himself in front of him, com- 
pelled the mob to listen to what he had to say. A 
few words sutficed to inform them of all that had 
occurred at the Widow McCormick's, whereupon a 
revulsion of feeling came over the crowd, and he 
was as near being killed by their kindness as he had 
been before by their pikes and scythes. The young 
rebel was carried in triumj^h through the streets, and 

finally sent on his way to Tipperary rejoicing. 



After many adventures and several narrow escapes 
from falling into the clutches of the vigilant police, 
Mr. Stephens reached the house of his lady-love. 
Here he passed three delightful days, receiving that 
kind nursing and watchful care which his wounded 
condition rendered necessary. But few visitors were 
allowed to approach the house, and nearly all those 
who were accorded that privilege were young ladies, 
whose sympathy for the wounded rebel would doubt- 
less have kept him confined for weeks longer, had 
not his place of concealment become suspected. An 
Irish magistrate, whose meddling curiosity was of 
the Paul Pry order, having ascertained that a 
fugitive rebel was in his vicinity, set inquiries on 
foot which rendered the place too hot for the young 
and romantic enthusiast. He accordingly bade an 
affectionate farewell to the pride of his heart, and 
started once more upon his wanderings. Departing 
from his comfortable quarters, where youth and 
beauty had ministered to his wants, he slept that 
night in the open air beside a hedge, with a stone 
for a pillow. 

From this time he shaped his way according to 
the directions given him by John O'Mahony, and 
soon joined that gentleman and Michael Doheny in 
their retired retreat. The report that Stephens was 
killed at the fight at Widow McCormick's house was 
generally believed, his friends doing their utmost to 
gain credence for it. His father aided in circulating 
the report, and even went so far as to get up a mock 
funeral for the unfortunate lad, and buried an empty 
coffin with all the honors. A little later Mr. Ste- 
phens had the pleasure of reading in the London 


Times^ a full report of his own funeral, written on 
the spot, " by our own correspondent.'' 

His rumored death contributed much towards his 
escape from Tipperary, and finally from his native 
land. He nevertheless was compelled to use extreme 
caution in all his movements, and on more than one 
occasion was all his ingenuity called into requisition 
to enable him to escape the clutches of government 
officials. Arriving at the home of O'Mahony, he 
found it surrounded by the police. In company with 
that gentleman, however, he succeeded in evading 
their vigilance, and the two outlaws made their way 
to a small cabin on the mountain side, near Carrick- 
on-Suir, where they found Michael Doheny quietly 
awaiting intelligence of his friends. This patriot had 
alsp encountered many wild adventures during the 
few weeks just gone by, which have been given to 
the world in a book written by himself. 



On the morning following the events detailed 
above, the three conspirators — James Stephens, 
O'Mahony, and Doheny — for the heads of two of 
whom the British Government had ofiered a large 
reward — crossed the Suir before daybreak, and 
made their way to the Comeragh Mountains. 

Here they spent several days, not daring to ven- 
ture forth, or attempt to hold communication with 
their friends. A few trusted peasants alone knew 
of their retreat, and from these they derived their 
subsistence and their knowledge of passing events. 
While here, and livmg thus, outlaws in their native 


land, their footsteps dogged by emissaries of a 
government they loathed, these men resolved to 
devote their lives to the liberation of Ireland and 
the overthrow of the power of England. The re- 
volutionary spirit of their countrymen was crushed 
out for the- present, and the poor enslaved people 
had returned to the old ways, discouraged and 
demoralized. British rulers and British landlords 
were becoming every day more exacting and over- 
bearing, but mismanagement, defeat, imprisonment, 
and famine, had so disheartened the people that no 
hope could be entertained of another rising at that 
time. A few years more must elapse, and new 
leaders, with more practical and more advanced 
ideas, must arise to inspire confidence in the hearts 
of the people. They must be organized. In the 
last days they had shown the proper spirit, but there 
had been no organization, and the people, when 
called to action, came forth as a mob, which could 
neither be used nor controlled. This must be reme- 
died ; the entire nation must be united in one mass 
of thoroughly drilled soldiers, before there could be 
any hope of a successful revolution. This was the 
feeling of Mr. Stephens as he and his companion 
pursued their lonely wanderings on Comeragh 
Mountains, and he resolved to bide his time. But 
that such organization should be made, and another 
blow for Irish freedom struck, he not only firmly 
resolved, but to the accomplishment of that purpose 
henceforth devoted his life and his fortunes. 

Great difficulty was experienced by Doheny and 
Stephens in their attempts to leave Ireland. So 
determined was the British government to secure 


the arrest of all who had been engaged in the late 
revolt, that patrols of soldiery and police were scour- 
ing road and field in their efforts to capture fugi- 
tives. Not a house, barn, or hay-rick in that portion 
of the country escaped search from the ofiicers of 
the law. It finally became necessary for their own 
safety, that Doheny and Stephens should separate, 
and each in his own way endeavor to escape from 
their native land. They accordingly did so, and 
taking different routes, each strove to reach some 
Irish seaport town. After having encountered many 
adventures and hairbreadth escapes, Mr. Stephens 
reached Cork, without having assumed any disguise. 
By a strange coincidence, which did not end here, 
Doheny arrived on the same day, disguised as a 
hog-drover. Each, unknown to the other, engaged 
passage for England ; they sailed on different schoon- 
ers ; left the harbor on the same day ; arrived in Eng- 
land on the same day, and finally entered France on 
the same day, at different ports ; neither, during all 
the time occupied in performing this journey, knew 
aught of the whereabouts or fate of the other, and 
it was not until nearly a month had elapsed after 
their arrival in Paris that they came in contact. Here, 
the resolves made upon the mountain were renew- 
ed, and each, in his own way, devoted himself to the 
accomplishment of the great object they had in view. 
In an account of their trials and tribulations, which 
was afterwards published by Doheny in a volume 
(The Felon's Track), that distinguished rebel thus 
speaks of Stephens and the way he bore himself 
under the trying circumstances to which both were 
so long exposed : 


" My comrade, who had no life to lose but his own, and who 
of that was recklessly prodigal, provided he could dispose of it 
to good account, stepped blithely along and uttered no complaint, 
although he left behind him traces marked with blood. His ter- 
rible indifterence soon restored my self-possession, and we found 
shelter for the night. * * * * His imperturbable equani- 
mity and ever-daring hope had sustained me in moments of per- 
plexity and alarm, when no other resource could have availed. 
During the whole time which we spent, as it were, in the shadow 
of the gibbet, his courage never faltered and his temper never 
once ruffled." — Extracts from ^^ Felon's Track." 

While Doheny amused himself in writing ballads 
on such scraps of paper as chanced in his way, 
Stephens enlivened the tedious hours of their 
involuntary wanderings with song and jest. His 
spirits were high, and his fund of humor never 


Mr. Stephens' hunger for knowledge had never 
been satiated, and knowing full well that he 
had much to acquire to fit himself to be a suc- 
cessful leader of a popular revolution, he imme- 
diately on his arrival in Paris again returned to his 
books. Shutting himself up in his own quiet room, 
he pursued his studies unremittingly, ignoring so- 
ciety almost -entirely, and forming only such ac- 
quaintances as would contribute to the fulfilment of 
his plans. He was often cramped for even the 
necessaries of life, but by means of occasional ser- 
vices rendered to literary and professional friends, he 
obtained sufiicient for his actual needs. For more 
than seven weary years did he remain in Paris, and 
nearly the whole of that time was devoted to his 
studies and in attendance upon lectures on the natu- 
ral sciences, philology, and literature. He became 


distinguished as a linguist, being able to read readily 
in sixteen different languages. During the latter 
portion of his residence in Paris, he had contributed 
to the daily and weekly journals, his articles excit- 
ing much comment and admiration in the literary 
world. He also translated Charles Dickens' "Mar- 
tin Chuzzlewit " into French, and had it published 
in that language. This added much to his literary 
fame, and contributed not a little to his purse. It 
has often been stated that during these seven years 
in Paris, Mr. Stephens became identified with secret 
political societies, whose object was the overthrow 
of the French government. This assertion is not 
true. While he lost no opportunity of familiarizing 
himself with the revolutionary leaders, and the prin- 
ciples and ideas which they advanced, he never was 
initiated into any of the secret societies. He was 
too much occupied with thoughts of his own un- 
happy country and in schemes for her delivery from 
the British yoke to become involved in the affairs 
of his neighbors. 


Early in 185*7 he, believing the hour propitious 
for the commencement of those plans which he had 
been so long maturing, set out for England. His 
ideas of organization at this time were more com- 
prehensive than ever before or since, and contem- 
plated not only the liberation of his own native land, 
but the complete overthrow of British rule wher- 
ever found. To this end he proposed beginning 
his labors in London by the establishment of a daily 
newspaper opposed to the government, and repub- 


lican in its views. He also sought to establish secret 
societies among Englishmen and Irishmen in Eng- 
land, to imbue their minds with republican ideas, 
and finally, to so spread the societies and the ideas 
that they should result in the overthrow of the Bri 
tish government at home and in all her provinces 
and in the establishment of republican forms of go- 
vernment. After a short stay in London, however, 
Mr. Stephens* health became so bad that he was 
obliged to return to his native land, and abandon 
his plans. His severe study in Paris had made sad 
inroads upon his constitution. His medical advisers 
informed him that nothing but a speedy return to 
Ireland would save his life. Reluctantly he aban- 
doned the field which had promised so fair a har- 
vest, and in a short time again pressed the sod of 
his beloved isle. 


He allowed himself but a short time for rest, 
however. His was not a spirit to remain in idleness. 
His countrymen were being oppressed, impoverished, 
and driven by thousands from the land of their 
birth to seek the protecting shelter and the homes 
and liberty afforded them upon the soil of America. 
Positions of trust and emolument were offered him 
by those who feared his genius and his revolutionary 
spirit. They thought by tempting offers of pecuniary 
assistance to win him from the purpose he had 
espoused under such trying circumstances. All these 
attempts were persistently set aside by him, and 
he resolved to ascertain for himself, by personal 
observation, the state of the country and the 


sentiments of the people. Provided simply with 
his knapsack and staff, he started out npon this 
tour, nor did he return again until every town 
and every hamlet in the whole of Ireland had 
been visited. Alone and on foot he travelled 
from one extreme of the Island to the other, talking 
with the farmer, the peasant, and the laborer — 
sleeping in their cabins, and partaking of their 
poor and scanty fare. Their grievances were related 
and sympathized with ; the farmer told how the 
landlord oppressed him, and how he took from him 
the last cent he could earn to pay the rent of a bit 
of bog and a leaky cabin, and how he was some- 
times turned out of even that wretched home 
because he couldn't make enough from the soil 
to pay that rent. The laborer told of hard work 
and scanty pay. All complained of the rise of rents 
and the exorbitant taxes they were forced to pay 
to support a church and clergy they did not believe 
in. He found the old spirit of revolution still 
alive in their breasts; it slumbered, but was not 
dead. They were ready to strike for their freedom 
if only the proper leaders could be found, and the 
proper organization effected. 


Mr. Stephens' travels afoot occupied him one 
year, during which time he traversed three thousand 
five hundred miles, and conversed with thousands 
of people — the bone and sinew of the land — under 
their own roof-trees. This journey rendered him 
more familiar with the condition of Ireland and the 
true sentiments of his countrymen than was any 


other person in the land. He returned fully satisfied 
that the time was ripening for the blow for freedom 
to be struck, and he resolved to prepare for it. 

It was after this tour through the country that he 
first laid the foundation for the society which is now 
known as the Fenian Brotherhood. At that time 
he gave it no name whatever, but strove to render 
the organization so secret that the Government 
should obtain no clue even to its existence. The 
days of '48 had taught him tliat no revolutionary 
movement in Ireland could be successful unless the 
people were thoroughly organized, and each man 
sworn, by a solemn oath, to obey the orders of his 
leaders. In the days of John Mitchel and Smith 
O'Brien there were political societies, but no oath 
bound the members together. The consequence 
was, that a single priest could scatter a crowd of 
thousands simply with his denunciations. The peo- 
ple had to be educated to make a distinction be- 
tween the priest in his capacity of religious instruc- 
tor and the same individual as a pohtician. This 
was one of the objects of the society established by 
Mr. Stephens. The people recognised that their 
clergy were opposed to any attempt by battle being 
made to secure the liberties of the people. They 
must be taught that all due respect would be paid 
to them as priests, but that when they lent the dig- 
nity of their office to serve political ends, they put 
off the sanctity of the robe, and became as other 
citizens, and were to be treated as such. This les- 
son has since been well learned by Irishmen at home 
and abroad ; and to-day the Fenian Brotherhood, 
which has been denounced by the clergy far and 


wide, embraces within its ranks two-thirds of the 
Irishmen of the world. Mr. Stephens established 
several of these societies, the members being sworn 
not only to watch over the interests of Ireland, but 
to take up arms for her whenever called upon so 
to do. 

At Skibbereen there was a political and literary 
association known as the " Phoenix Society." Most 
of the members of this society were enrolled by Mr. 
Stephens, but retained their original organization, 
designation, and outward seeming as a club, for 
the purpose of misleading the government in case 
its suspicions were aroused. A British spy, how- 
ever, joined their order, and having mastered some of 
theit secrets, informed upon them. Many were ar- 
rested, and one conviction followed. The trials 
attendant upon the arrest of th§ Phoenix men creat- 
ed great excitement in the land. These patriots 
were called " Phoenix men " at the time of the pro- 
secution, and for a long time the name attached it- 
self to Mr. Stephens' secret organization, and it 
even became familiar in America. 


In December, 1858, letters were brought to Ste- 
phens from Michael Doheny and other friends then 
in America, stating that their efforts to establish secret 
societies had been successful, and that an order was in 
existence here with the object of eventually afford- 
ing relief to Ireland. These gentlemen desired him 
to undertake a similar organization at home, pro- 
mising him such assistance from this side the ocean 


as might be deemed necessary. The experience 
gained by hira during his pedestrian tour, and the 
favor which his embryo societies had met with, con- 
vinced him that the plan was feasible, and he so in- 
formed his American friends. He undertook to 
organize and enroll ten thousand fighting men in the 
space of three months, on the condition that he 
should have the supreme control of the revolution- 
ary movement, and that the American auxiliaries 
should furnish him funds with which to meet the 
necessary expenses of such an undertaking. The 
first of these conditions Mr. Stephens insisted upon 
most strenuously. He was on the field where the 
action was to take place ; he was to assume the re- 
sponsibility of the movement; he was the chief con- 
spirator, whose life would surely be forfeited if he 
fell into the hands of the British government. As- 
suming thus the responsibility and the risk, he de- 
manded that his action should not be hampered by 
the dictation of men whose absence from the scene 
placed them in a position where they were incapa- 
ble of judging of the necessities of the hour. His 
connexion with the movement in '48, and his sub- 
sequent studies and experience, had taught him that 
any conspiracy in Ireland looking to the establish- 
ment of a republican form of government, must not 
only be as secret as it could be made, to evade the 
eye of British officials, but must be governed and 
directed by one controlling mind. 

His friends in America conceded this point, and 
while recognising him as the head and front of the 
revolutionary movement, promised to use every 
exertion to secure the cooperation of their country- 


men here. Under these circumstances Mr. Ste- 
phens commenced his labor of organization. The 
societies ah'eady formed were visited and induced 
to extend their fields of labor ; new societies were 
formed where none had previously existed, and the 
souls of Irishmen were once more filled with hopes 
of freedom. They responded nobly to the call of 
their beloved chief, entering inta the societies with 
the full determination to take up arms in defence of 
their rights whenever called upon so to do. 


In seven months Mr. Stephens had organized an 
army of thirty thousand loyal souls, who were 
sworn soldiers of the Irish Republic. So quiet and 
systematic had been his labors, that notwithstand- 
ing the fact that British spies swarmed in every 
town, the Government could obtain but little infor- 
mation regarding the organization. That secret 
political societies were in existence, was now well 
known, but their extent could never be ascertained ; 
and England knew comparatively nothing of the 
formidable conspiracy going on under her very eyes. 

From St. Patrick's day, the 17th of March, 1858, 
till the end of September following, Mr. Stephens 
devoted every hour to the task of perfecting this 
organization, and giving to it a military character. 


His friends had promised to furnish him from 
America from £80 to £100 per month to enable him 
to complete his work ; but the spring months passed 


and July came without bringing with it the remit- 
tances from across the ocean. Less than £100 in 
all was received by Mr. Stephens from the time he 
commenced tbe work of organization to the 1st of 
July, 1858. Meantime he had used in the work all 
the fmids he had received or could raise upon his 
personal credit, and he was forced to behold the 
work of his hands about to be destroyed for the 
lack of that support which had been so confidently 
promised him. In this emergency he sent a trusted 
friend to America to consult with O'Mahony and 
Doheny, who were the representatives of the Irish 
movement in that country. These gentlemen were 
surprised to learn the extent of Mr. Stephens' or- 
ganization, but could show no corresponding labor 
performed here. They, however, renewed their 
assurances of cooperation, but finally sent the agent 
back nearly as em23ty-handed as he came. 

The result of this mission was exceedingly disap- 
pointing to Mr. Stephens and his co-laborers at 
home, but they were in nowise disheartened. An- 
other long term of anxious waiting for the fulfil- 
ment of their dream of liberty must elapse, the 
impetuous ardor of their followers must be controlled, 
and they be taught that lesson of patience which 
their leader had been conning for ten weary years. 


It was at length determined that Mr. Stephens 
should visit America, and for a brief period employ 
upon that soil the talent for organizing which had 
made him so powerful at home. Accordingly, in 
September, 1858, he landed in New York, and for 


the first time set foot upon those shores, where so 
many of his countrymen had found homes and for- 
tunes. He was met by O'Mahony and Doheny, who 
extended to their old comrade a welcome as hearty 
as it was sincere. The young patriot was disap- 
pointed at the httle progress his friends had made in 
laying before his countrymen the trae state of Ireland. 
These two men, so brave in action, so ready to lead 
their squadrons in the field, who never flinched when 
death stared them in the face, who laughed defiantly 
Avhen the British government fixed a price upon 
their heads, were found unequal to the task of eli- 
citing that sympathy for their enslaved countrymen 
which Irish hearts, wherever found, are so willing to 
pour out in substantial form, when properly ap- 

Mr. Stephens met many warm and influential 
friends of the cause in New York, but these gave so 
gloomy an account of matters here as to almost de- 
ter him from further efforts. But he felt the respon- 
sibility which rested upon him, and knew that thou- 
sands of anxious hearts at home were beating in 
unison with his, and? that thousands of good and 
true men looked to him as their leader, and were 
watching his every movement with anxious eyes. 
He resolved, in spite of all opposition which was 
in his way, to commence and carry to success an 
organization here similar to the one in Ireland. 
O'Mahony, Doheny, Michael Corcoran, and a few 
other prominent and patriotic individuals seconded his 
efforts, and the movement was commenced ; the late 
Brig.-General Michael Corcoran being the first man 
sworn in on this side of the Atlantic. But already 


nearly four months of precious time had elapsed 
since his arrival in America — time consumed in vain 
efforts of others to do what he had contemplated — 
and his countrymen were clamorous for his return 
to L'eland. Having at length gained the consent of 
his friends here to proceed in his own way, he started 
upon a tour through the States, leaving the organi- 
zation in New York in the hands of his friends. 
His efforts met with success everywhere. Being a 
plain-spoken, energetic, and convincing speaker, he 
was listened to attentively, and his counsels fol- 

The societies which he established were secret in 
their nature, and while they contemplated the liber- 
ation of their native land from British tyranny, the 
means he proposed to accomplish that end were diffe- 
rent from those contemplated by the home organiza- 
tions. There, every member was a soldier ; here, each 
member was a contributor to the support and equip- 
ment of those soldiers. Mr. Stephens devoted 
only one month to this effort, and at the end of 
that time had established societies in many of the 
principal towns in the Ur^ed States. Having 
received their assurances of hearty cooperation, 
and having raised some means, he returned to I^ew 
York, preparatory to embarking for his native 


While waiting in New York, the delegates of 
the societies he had organized drew up a document 
conferring upon him the sole control of the Irish 
revolutionary movement, and recognising him as 


the head of all Irish organizations throughout the 
world. Not alone in Ireland and America had the 
spirit of revolution taken root, but the sons of 
Erin in England, Australia, South America, and, in 
short, all over the globe, had become alive to the 
necessities of the hour, and were prepared to play 
their allotted roles in the coming hour of peril. 
All united in recognising Mr. Stephens as their 
leader, and to him intrusted the control of the 
cause so sacred to them. Knowing full well the 
responsibility thus put upon him, he boldly accepted 
the trust, confident of his ability to accomplish 
much, and to at least develop the power and strength 
of his people. 

With this feeling, and under these circumstances, 
he returned to Europe, his arrival being the signal 
for renewed hope throughout the land. 


1^0% caring to return to his native land until he 
had the means of accomplishing his work ready to 
his hand, he again proceeded to Paris, where he 
spent two weary years waiting for that assistance 
which never came. Meantime, he was in constant 
communication with the Societies on both sides of 
the Atlantic, urging the one to renewed efforts in 
behalf of their oppressed country, and to the other 
holding out hopes of coming succor. But the di- 
rectors of Fenian affairs in America did not make 
that exertion among their countrymen which the 
emergency required, and the organization which 
had promised so much became paralysed and dead 
to all intents and purposes. The cry went up, " Why 


do not tlie Irishmen at home do something for them- 
selves ? " from men who should have known that 
Irishmen at home were shackled hand and foot with 
British fetters, and could make no movement for 
their relief until their more fortunate brothers in 
foreign lands furnished them the means of breaking 
their bonds. For this they prayed, and this had 
been promised. Those men who asked why Ireland 
consented to remain in fetters, never asked them- 
selves, " Where is the assistance we promised? Where 
the guns, the bayonets, and other munitions of war 
we were to furnish ? " They preferred to quietly 
fold their hands and complain that others did not 
do that which they themselves had stipulated to ac- 

The entire sum of money sent to Mr. Stephens 
from America during the first six years following 
his efforts in 1858 did not exceed £1,500. Had it 
not been that Irishmen at home, from their own piti- 
ful savings, contributed ten times that amount, 
the revolutionary spirit could not have been kept 
alive one single year — it would have died a natural 
death from want of encouragement. 

During all the years which have passed since Mr. 
Stephens devoted his life to the cause of Ireland, he 
has never, up to the present time, applied to his own 
use one dollar of the amount contributed to secure 
the freedom of his native land. Not only has he 
refused to defray his own expenses from the public 
funds, but he has contributed thereto from his own 
slender means until £8,000 have been swept away 
from his private purse, leaving him greatly in debt 
to a few kind personal friends, whose confidence in 


the individual could never be shaken, whatever they 
might think of the cause he had espoused. 

The indifference of Irishmen in America having 
for the time destroyed all hope of securing Ireland's 
independence, Mr. Stephens returned to Dublin and 
quietly awaited the course of events. Never for 
one moment, since the days of O'Brien and Mitchel, 
has he doubted the practicabiHty of the undertaking 
when the proper moment should arrive. He had 
seen one or two opportunities for a revolutionary 
movement in Ireland, when England was in trouble 
elsewhere, pass unimproved because the Irish people 
were not organized. He had determined that this 
should not occur again, and that when the occasion 
for another rising came, his countrymen should at 
least be prepared to avail themselves of it. He there- 
fore worked night and day in perfecting what then 
had no name, but what is now known as the Fenian 
Brotherhood. He had at this time established so- 
cieties all through the land, but they were not suf- 
ficiently advanced to suit him. He accordingly 
visited them all, worked with them, added to their 
numbers, and watched them drilling as soldiers. 


The organization was a military one, somewhat 
peculiar in its formation. J'irst, in each district a 
good and trusty man was selected by Mr. Stephens 
to act as an organizer. This individual was called a 
*' Centre," his military rank being similar in power 
and duties to our colonel. This Centre then organ- 
ized " Circles," each Circle comprising from 50 to 
150 good and reliable men, who were presided over 


by captains. These, however, instead of being recog' 
nised by their military titles, were designated " A's" 
and " B's", the captains having authority to appoint 
sergeants, corporals, etc. It was provided that if 
the Centre was captured, the senior captain should 
immediately take his place, his vacancy being filled 
by the one below him, and so on throughout the 
whole society. Whatever office became vacant, for 
any reason, the next officer in rank below immedi- 
ately took the place. By this means the Circles were 
never without a Centre, and when arrests were made 
of the leading men, it was found that the machinery 
was in nowise clogged. The Circles had their regu- 
lar meetings and their military drills at stated in- 
tervals. A large number of the Fenians belonged 
to the militia, and were only too eager to avail 
themselves of the opportunity to instruct their bro- 
thers in the manual of arms. Indeed, so completely 
Fenianized did the militia of Ireland become that the 
British Government at length prohibited their drill- 
ing at all, and would scarcely allow them to assem- 
ble on the usual holidays. 


In 1862, an event occurred calculated to convince 
every one that the representations which Mr. Ste- 
phens had made regarding the strength of the Fe- 
nians in Ireland were in no way exaggerated. This 
event was the arrival at Cork of the remains of that 
noble patriot, Terence Bellew McManus. It will 
be remembered that McManus was one of those 
devoted men who remained stedfastly with Smith 
O'Brien in '48 to the very last. He was eventually 


captured, while attempting to leave the country, 
and after suffering a long and tedious imprisonment, 
was brought to trial. The evidence against him 
was conclusive, and he was sentenced to be " hanged, 
drawn, and quartered," in accordance with the hu- 
mane provisions of English law. This sentence was 
commuted, however, and he was doomed to spend 
the remainder of his days in penal servitude. While 
undergoing this imprisonment in Australia, frequent 
attempts were made by friends at home to induce 
the British Government to pardon him and the other 
patriots who were then pining in the penal settle- 
ments. McManus, however, stedfastly refused to 
consent to his name being used for any such pur- 
pose ; he intended, if he could escape, to repeat his 
attempts to overthrow the British Government, and 
he would not place himself under any obligations to 
a'^power he hated, by accepting from it a pardon. 
He eventually escaped, and made his way to San 
Francisco, where he engaged in business. His name 
was always revered by his countrymen, not only for 
his unflinching bravery in the hour of danger, but 
for his undying hatred of the oppressors of his race, 
and his stubborn rejection of all overtures for pardon. 
In 1862, he died in that city, and his many friends 
decided upon sending his remains for interment to 
that Green Isle for which he had suffered so much. 

"When the body reached New York, his country- 
men flocked in thousands to pay to it their last 
tribute of respect ; and notwithstanding the fact that 
Archbishop Hughes had forbidden the members of 
the Catholic Church to participate in any demon- 
stration on the occasion, the funeral cortege was 


one of the largest ever seen in IN'ew Yoik. Thence 
the body, accompanied by a suitable escort, was 
conveyed to Cork. Up to this time, there had been 
very little known about the Fenian Brotherhood ; 
and as the friends of Ireland abroad doubted its 
strength, Mr. Stephens consented that its members 
should contribute their share in paying fitting tri- 
bute to the illustrious dead. On the day of the 
arrival of the body in Cork, that city was filled with 
Fenians, who had been called thither by then- chief. 
When the funeral escort came on shore with their 
dead leader, the body was received by a committee 
of distinguished gentlemen, and conveyed to a suit- 
able place, where it lay in state for eight days and 
was visited by thousands. At the end of that 
time, the remains were sent to Dublin, and eight 
thousand Fenians formed in procession and accom- 
panied them to the depot. Sixty thousand more 
lined the sidewalks, remaining reverently uncovered 
as the last earthly remains of him they loved so well 
were carried past. 

There was a continuous grand ovation all along 
the line of road over which the remains of this re- 
vered patriot passed from Cork to Dublin. At every 
station Fenians had congregated, and the occasion 
was one of the deepest solemnity throughout the 
land. When the obsequies were celebrated in Dub- 
lin, one hundred and fifty thousand participated in 
the demonstration, thirty thousand of whom joined 
in the procession. From these demonstrations the 
fact became at once apparent to the English Govern- 
ment as well as to the friends of Ireland at home and 
abroad, that there existed in the Green Isle an organ- 


ization of sufficient strength to shake the power of 
England, if so inclin(;d. 

It had been thought by some Irishmen in this 
country that the arrival of the remains of McManus 
in Ireland would be a favorable opportunity for ano- 
ther revolutionary attempt. They accordingly sailed 
for their native land at the same time, and imme- 
diately commenced agitating for a rising. In some 
localities they found many followers, and had hopes 
of being successful. Indeed, even Fenians who were 
bound to Mr. Stephens had become impatient of 
delay, and were willing to unite in any movement 
which promised even the shadow of success. But 
their chief knew that the hour had not arrived ; the 
spirit of the people might be ripe for revolution, but 
they had neither arms nor means to prosecute it to 
a successful issue. He accordingly communicated 
to the Centres of his Circles that no outbreak would 
be allowed at that time, and the attempt of the 
American patriots was frustrated. At several places, 
however, Fenians had congregated in large numbers, 
ready and willing to do anything, expecting tbat the 
word for action to begin would be given. At one 
place upwards of a thousand stalwart Fenians had 
collected at the depot, awaiting the arrival of the 
train which was bearing the remains of McManus. 
They had been informed that when the train arrived 
there would be work to do, and they were prepared 
to undertake anything. One of the foremost, acting 
as spokesman for the rest, sought out Mr. Stephens, 
and inquired what was to be done. He directed 
them to form in line quietly, and then having gained 
a position where he could be heard, and in a voice 


which once heard is to be obeyed, shouted to them, 
*' To your knees, men ! to your knees, every one ! " 
Instantly every knee was bent, and every head 
reverently uncovered. In this attitude they re- 
mained, murmuring heartfelt prayers, until the train 
bearing the corpse of their hero had passed. Quietly 
then they dispersed to their several homes, content 
to pay the tribute of a tear to the memory of the 
dead patriot, and to obey the commands of their 
living chief. 


At this time, out of a population of 5,000,000 
people, 50,000 could be relied on to shoulder their 
muskets and take the field against British oppres- 

The amount of labor required to perfect this or- 
ganization can only be appreciated by those who 
have had some ex]3erience in organizing revolu- 
tionary movements. But at the head stood Mr. 
Stephens, steadily guiding the Brotherhood in all 
its affairs, and so perfecting the organization that 
when the moment arrived for them to strike for 
freedom, the British government should find, instead 
of the undisciplined mob which had before been so 
easily put down, an army of veterans, capable of 
establishing their rights at the point of the bayonet. 
He was personally known to but a few of the more 
prominent Centres, yet his name was held in such 
reverence by the masses that it was never allowed 
to pass their lips for fear they might betray him. 
He was spoken of as " the captain," and to say to 
them that "the captain" wanted this or that done 


was to secure its prompt performance. Even t?ie 
Centres themselves whispered his name only when 
barred doors shut out all possibility of its being 
heard by watchful spies. Notwithstanding Mr. 
Stephens was known to so few of the members of 
the Brotherhood he was familiar with them all. 
Under different names and disguises, he visited 
every Circle frequently, often addressing them with 
encouraging words from "the captain" or superin- 
tending their drills. 


Several of the best and most intelligent men were 
selected by him as a Council of Advisors, to whom 
were submitted all questions of importance and whose 
opinions guided the actions of their Chief. The sub- 
sequent fate of three of the members of this council is 
well known. John O'Leary, Charles Kickham, and 
Thomas Clark Luby, gentlemen connected with The 
Irish People newspaper, were arrested on suspicion 
of being connected with a revolutionary conspiracy. 
An agent of John O'Mahony's having been sent to 
Ireland with despatches, was unfortunate enough to 
lose them. The documents fell into the hands of the 
British Government, and the arrest of hundreds of 
patriots followed. The investigations resulting from 
this unfortunate affair showed O'Leary, Kickham, 
and Clark to be identified with the conspirators, and 
their conviction followed without delay. They are 
now (June, 1866) serving out a sentence of twenty 
years' confinement at Pentonville prison, near Lou- 




The vigilance of the police now rendered necessary 
an increased expenditure of funds in behalf of the 
Brotherhood. The treasury was exhausted, and the 
few moneyed friends of the cause had already been 
taxed to their last dollar. He had to assume the 
entire responsibility of weathering the storm which 
hung over the organization, acting at once as its 
financier and chief director. 

In this emergency, he again sent to America a 
true friend of the cause to ask once more for that 
assistance which had been so often promised. This 
agent soon reached New York city, where he was 
met with glowing accounts of the progress of the 
Brotherhood all over the country. He, however, 
made a tour through the States, visiting many of the 
large cities, and addressing large assemblies of his 
countrymen. He thought everything looked favor- 
able, more favorable than had been represented ; but 
he was deceived. Machinations were immediately 
set on foot to counterbalance the favorable impres. 
sions he had made in the country by those who were 
loath to see any Fenian contributions leave the 
country. The mission of this agent was a failure. 

Again was Mr. Stephens disappointed, but not 
disheartened. Difficulties beset his path on all sides, 
but his undaunted spirit never for a moment quailed 
before them. Fertile in resources, his mind no 
sooner realized the failure of one project, than an- 
other was suggested. Means to carry on his revolu- 
tionary enterprise must be obtained. Could he at 
this time, or at any subsequent period, have obtained 


th-e privilege of appealing directly to the masses at 
home with that freedom which is allowed in this 
country, he could easily have derived from his 
poverty-stricken countrymen the sums required to 
prosecute his plans for their liberation. But mass- 
meetings, which in this country are the means of 
direct personal appeal, were denied to him ; and that 
mighty engine of Republicanism — the Press — was 
closed against him. He resolved, therefore, upon 
attempting the establishment of a newspaper in the 
interests of the Brotherhood, which should not only 
be instrumental in enlightening his people upon the 
subject so dear to their hearts, but should at the 
same time be made a source of revenue to their 
depleted Treasury. 


Accordingly, in 1863, he, by appeals made to the 
various circles in Ireland, succeeded in raising a suf- 
ficient sum to commence the publication of The 
Irish People. It freely discussed all matters touch- 
ing the welfare of Ireland, and was devoted to the 
dissemination of Republican ideas. The paper was 
well edited, there being engaged upon its editorial 
staff several able and accomplished journalists ; while 
its corps of contributors numbered in its ranks some 
of the most brilliant writers of the Irish race. Ten 
thousand copies of the first number were printed, 
and so great was the demand for it that the edition 
was speedily exhausted. The second and third 
numbers met with similar success, and it bade fair 
to meet all the expectations of its founder. But 
with the third number came trouble. Its tone was 


offensive to British tastes, and the government 
objected to its progressive views. It was denounced 
as seditious in its tendency and revolutionary in it? 
teachings. Its circulation was opposed by the 
government and the clergy ; and the opposition to it 
was sufficient to prevent its yielding that pecuniary 
profit which had been anticipated. On the contrary, 
for a portion of its existence, it was an expense to 
its founder, and he was called upon to contribute 
largely to its support from his private means. It 
survived, however, until 1865, when the finding of the 
documents lost by O'Mahony's agent showed it to 
be identified with the revolutionary party, where- 
upon the government seized upon and confiscated 
its presses and material. 


In the winter of 1863 and 1864, the American 
Fenians began to take some very decided steps ; and 
a Convention was held at Chicago, Illinois, for the 
purpose of consulting in regard to the prospects of 
Ii'eland, and attempting to liit upon some plan of 
action which should lead to a more extended and 
practical form of sympathy being adopted by the 
Brotherhood throughout the United States. This 
Convention was attended by delegates from all parts 
of the country, but more particularly from the 
Western States. It was in those States that the 
greatest strength of the Brotherhood was mani- 
fested at that time. Many schemes were proposed, 
some of which were destined to exercise a very 
strong influence over the future action of the 
American Brotherhood. Personal ambition on the 


part of several of the leaders had already manifeste( 
itself, and the struggle for power was here com] 
menced. It was at this Convention that the idea 
of rendering the American Brotherhood independ- 
ent of the organization in Ireland was first publicly 
broached. This Brotherhood had heretofore been 
considered auxiliary to the home society, and had 
recognised James Stephens as the head of the wide- 
spread movements for the liberation of Ireland. 
At the Chicago Convention it was contemplated to 
reverse the order of things, giving the, American 
Brotherhood the su]3remacy, with power to dictate 
what should be the policy pursued by the people at 
home. In accordance with this idea, John O'Ma- 
hony was chosen President of the Brotherhood, and 
a Central Council chosen, which was to advise with 
the President on all affairs of importance. This 
was a direct blow aimed at Mr. Stephens and his 
Irish organization, the result of which was to give 
birth to all the unfortunate if not fatal dissensions 
which followed. 

It had been determined to hold a grand Fair at 
Chicago, Illinois, for the benefit of the Brotherhood. 
Previous to the opening of the Fair, Mr. Henry 
Clarence McCarty was sent to Ireland, ostensibly 
for the purpose of procuring articles for exhibition 
and sale at the Fair. He was coi'dially received by 
Mr. Stephens and his friends, who seconded his 
efforts in every possible way. The office of The 
Irish People was made a depository for articles in- 
tended for this purpose, and the columns of the 
paper devoted to the advocacy of the scheme. 



The great object of McCarty's trip was, however, 
to induce Stephens to visit America for the good of 
the cause, and especially that he might save the or- 
ganization from threatened dissolution. He yield- 
ed to the representations made, and, as before stated, 
arrived in New York in the latter part of March, 

After a few days spent with his friends, Mr. Ste- 
phens proceeded to Chicago, where he arrived the 
second day of the Fair. He was greeted with the 
greatest enthusiasm by the masses, but beneath the 
apparent cordiality of the more prominent Fenians 
there lurked a feeling of chagrin at his presence. It 
is not our purpose to go into all the petty intrigues 
which were here developed ; we will pass them by 
with the simple statement, that they were nume- 
rous, some of them dangerous, and that they bore the 
most bitter fruits at a subsequent period. The Fair 
was a great success in spite of (or rather because 
of) the opposition to it, offered by the clergy of 
this country. The priests had objected to it from 
the first, and entreated their congregations to dis- 
countenance it entirely, threatening them in the 
most serious manner for any participation in it. The 
people, however, refused to be dictated to in this 
manner, and nearly 50,000 persons were present. 
It was here that Mr. Stephens learned, with feelings 
of regret and astonishment, that the American Bro- 
therhood numbered only about 10,000 members, when 
he had been led to believe their numbers exceeded 
50,000. He had in Ireland, where to be a Fenian 


was to be a conspirator, 60,000 active members of the 
organization, and he had hoped America would fur- 
nish at least an equal number. This statement 
was exceedingly discouraging to him, yet, upon 
certain assurances being made he promised that if 
England went to war that year on the Danish ques- ^ 
tion, as was anticipated, the blow for Irish freedom 
should be struck on Irish soil before another year 
began. But if England should not go to war that 
year, he promised that the fight in Ireland should 
commence in 1865 at the farthest. This promise 
was a conditional one, dependent for its fulfilment 
upon assurances made him that the help required 
should be promptly furnished. 

After the Fair was concluded, Mr. Stephens, sad- 
dened and somewhat discouraged at the prospect 
presented to him there, started upon an organizing 
tour through the West. He met with good success, 
and the encouragement given him in various cities 
served to remove from his mind the doubts enoen- 
dered at Chicago. 


He returned to Ireland in August, 1864, having 
realized £3,000 by his American trip ; three times 
this amount had been assured him as an inducement 
to get him to come. 

On arriving in Cork harbor, he found the country 
in a fearful state of excitement in consequence of 
the difficulties which were then in existence be- 
tween the Orangemen and the Catholics. Several 
outbreaks of a serious nature had occurred, men 
had been killed on both sides, and it was feared 


that these demonstrations were but the forerunners 
of an open revolt. Mr. Stephens hastened to 
Dublin, to the great relief of his friends, and at 
once resuming the leadership of the organization, 
prevented the Fenians taking any part in the 
troubles. He found the organization deeply in 
debt, and was compelled to at once expend nearly 
every dollar he had brought back from America to 
liquidate claims which had accumulated during his 


The Danish question was still a mooted one in 
Europe, and Mr. Stephens exerted all his energies 
in preparing Ireland for the commencement of 
hostilities in case England should be drawn into a 
war with any other power. Believing that " Eng- 
land's difficulty was Ireland's opportunity," he made 
every preparation calculated to secure the success 
of the contemplated revolution. But disappoint- 
ment awaited him ; no European war occurred, 
and, what was still worse, no help came from 
America. Instead of the money and munitions of 
war which had been so lavishly promised, all the 
assistance received from America by him to the 
end of January, 1864, was the paltry sum of 

In January, 1865, another Convention of the 
Brotherhood in America was held at Cincinnati, 
and to them Mr. Stephens appealed by letter for 
the fulfilment of the promises made to enable him 
to begin the fight in that year. He asked that 
for the first three months of that year he should 


he furnished £1,000, the same amount for the month 
of April, and for May, June, July and August, 
£2,500 per month He represented that this assist- 
ance would enable his countrymen at home to take 
the field before the winter months arrived. His 
arrangements at that time were such that with the 
sums mentioned he could have introduced into 
Ireland all the war material required. This was 
promised him, and the first instalments sent over ; 
but subsequently the remittances became irregular, 
and soon ceased entirely, before one-quarter of 
the amount promised had been transmitted. 


In July of that year (1865), instead of sending 
the assistance promised, two delegates were sent 
to Ireland by the Brotherhood in America, for 
the purpose of inspecting the work of Mr. Stephens, 
and ascertaining whether a revolution was practica- 
ble. Mr. P. J. Meehan and P. W. Dunn were the 
gentlemen selected for this purpose, the former 
bearing the credentials of both from John O'Mahony. 
They sought out Mr. Stephens, made known the 
object of their visit, and were afibrded every 
opportunity for fulfilling their mission. They soon 
expressed themselves entirely satisfied with the 
organization, and again assured Mr. Stephens that 
he should receive from America all the assistance 
that had been promised. It was at this time 
that it was agreed that the issue of Bonds of 
the Irish Republic should be entered upon imme- 
diately upon the return of Mr. Meehan to New 
York, and he promised to start in eight days. 


These eight days were to be employed by Messrs. 
Meehan and Dunn in visiting some of their friends. 
At the expiration of fifteen days Mr. Stephens 
received letters from each of them, posted in 
different parts of Ireland, requesting him to send to 
them, through the post-office^ the names of numerous 
Centres of Circles, expressing their desire to visit 
those organizations. Mr. Stephens, very indignant 
at such request, at once summoned them to Dublin, 
to confer about matters of vital importance. He 
received no answers to these summonses, and several 
days elapsed before Mr. Dunn returned. Mr. 
Meehan continued not only absent but silent. 


The visit of Messrs. Meehan and Dunn to Ireland 
was the most unfortunate blow the revolutionary 
cause in Ireland had received in many a day. They 
had been provided with important documents — im- 
portant only as they would, if captured, be found 
criminatory in their nature — and with funds for the 
use of the conspirators, which were in the custody 
of Mr. Meehan. 

That gentleman^ on the first day of his arrival^ 
hy some means lost everything in his possessio?i 
belonging to^ and giving information about the 
JBrotherhood. The docwnents at once found their 
way into the hands of British police officials^ and 
were the immediate cause of the wholesale arrests of 
Fenian leaders and sympathizers which have since 
been made. 

For months previously British detectives, spies, in- 
formers, police, soldiery, and officials of every kind, 


had been eoideavorin^ in vain to find out just what 
the documents lost by Mr. Meehan told them, 
viz. the prime movers of the Fenian organiza- 

These documents were simply the letter of John 
O'Mahony, endorsing Messrs. Meehan and Dunn, 
addressed to " James Stephens, Central Executive of 
the Irish Republic," and a draft for the sum of £500 
drawn in favor of a respectable Irishman. This was 
the link, so long sought by the government, showing 
the direct connection between the revolutionary 
element in Ireland and the Fenian Brotherhood in 
America, and also giving endorsements to the sworn 
statements of Nagle, which statements otherwise, 
owing to the character of the man, would have been 


Knowing James Stephens to be identified with 
The Irish People newspaper, on the night of the 1 5th 
of September the ofiice of that paper was seized by 
the police, and its types and presses taken possession 
of by the government officials. At the same time a 
posse of police surrounded the house of one of its edi- 
tors, Thomas Clark Luby, and patiently waited for the 
appearance of that gentlcTiian. Two messengers, who 
were dispatched to him from The Irish People office 
during the night, were seized by the vigilant officers. 
Finally they entered Mr. Luby's house and seized 
that gentleman and a large lot of documents relating 
to the Brotherhood. These papers being calculated 
to implicate many people in the conspiracy, had been 
previously kept in a place of safety together with 


many private papers belonging to Mr. Luby. Antici- 
pating just what had occurred, the seizure of The 
Irish People office, and the search of his own resi- 
dence, Mr. Luby had brought the papers to his home 
for the purpose of destroying such as could be 
spared, selecting out his private documents and 
concealing the remainder where they could not 
possibly be found. It was while thus engaged 
that he was arrested. The papers thus found, 
placed in the hands of the police the names of 
many brave men who were connected with the Fe- 
nian organization, and led to their immediate arrest. 
But the first positive clue which the government 
obtained upon which to base an arrest was that 
furnished by the documents lost by Mr. Meehan. 
Without that the fatal discovery of the papers at 
Mr. Luby's could never have been made. It was 
freely admitted by British officials that all the 
information previously received by them had not 
been of a criminating nature, and the Attorney- 
General stated officially that without the Meehan 
documents no arrests could have been made. 

The events immediately following the seizure of 
The Irish People office are of such recent date as 
not to require repetition here. How hundreds of 
brave and loyal Irishmen were seized and thrown 
into prison on suspicion of being Fenians ; how 
Americans in Ireland were also suspected, arrested, 
and ordered to leave the country ; how some of 
these patriotic men were brought to trial, and how 
nobly and defiantly they bore themselves ; and how 
they were sentenced to years of penal servitude, are 
matters well known to the public. 



On the day following the seizure of The Irish 
People office — the 16th of September — a reward of 
£200 was offered for the arrest of Mr. Stephens. 
As days and weeks rolled on, and he still remained 
at large, this reward was increased publicly to 
£2,300 ; while privately it was known that whoever 
should produce in court the arch-conspirator, would 
receive from the Government and individuals an 
incredible amount. Yet while the ingenuity of the 
British Government was taxed to the uttermost to 
secure his arrest ; while detectives were following 
every trail, and spies lurking in every corner — that 
gentleman remained quietly at his own residence in 
the suburbs of Dublin, pursuing his usual avocations. 


In the preceding month of July he had rented for 
£60 a year (this is the mansion he is said to have 
occupied at Fenian cost !) a small house known as 
Fairfield, in the south-eastern portion of the city, 
near Sandy Mount, on the river Doder, and here 
he remained from that time until he was arrested. 
He was known there as Mr. Herbert, and was to be 
seen at all hours of the day, quietly digging in. his 
little garden, indulging his refined taste in the culti- 
vation of flowers, or bestowing a gardener's care 
upon the substantial vegetables which were destined 
to appear upon his dinner-table. The other occupants 
of this cottage were his wife, his sister-in-law, Charles 
Kickham, one of the editors of The Irish People^ 
Edward Duffy, and Hugh Brophy. These gentle- 
men were all subsequently arrested. 


It was believed that the excitement through- 
out the land, in consequence of the arrests, would 
lead to an outbreak on the part of the revolutionists. 
Indeed the hour was a proj^itious one ; but that quiet 
country gentleman, in his suburban cottage, knew 
that, however ripe the times and the people might 
be for a rising against their self-delegated masters, 
the warlike preparations were not sufficient to en- 
sure a success. An outbreak might be made in cer- 
tain localities, and a temporary victory gained, but 
there was neither a sufficiency of arms nor ammuni- 
tion in the land to warrant the slightest hope of 
success. Mr. Stephens knew this only too well, and 
bitterly did he regret that the promised aid from 
America had not reached him in time to enable him 
to take advantage of this popular excitement which 
seized upon every Irishman in the land, and aroused 
in him such deep indignation as to render him ripe 
for any deed that should promise to free his native 
land from the rule of the hated Saxon. The desire 
for the work to begin was so great in the ranks of 
the Brotherhood, that nothing short of the powerful 
influence which Mr. Stephens wielded over his 
countrymen and their devotion to him could have 
prevented an outbreak. That such was prevented 
when popular indignation was wrought up to its 
highest pitch, is an evidence of the high state of dis- 
cipline to which the organization had been brought. 
The imperative order that no revolutionary move- 
ment should be made at that time went out from 
that controlling spirit, and was obeyed. 



For over two months" following the issuance of the 
proclamation setting a price upon his head, Mr, 
Stephens remained at Fairfield. A full description 
of his person had been published, and the police 
were in full cry after him. But few persons con- 
nected with the Fenian movement knew of his re- 
treat, and the number who were familiar with his 
person was comparatively small. For seven years 
he had been a conspirator in Ireland, most of the time 
living in Dublin, yet his person was unknown to any 
policeman. His retreat was finally discovered, 
through the treachery of one who was familiar with 
the fact that James Stephens and Mr. Herbert were 
one and the same person. On the night of the 12th 
of November, Colonel Lake and Inspector Ryan, of 
"G" Division of the Metropolitan Police, with a 
large posse of policemen, surrounded the house at 
Fairfield, bent upon the capture of the great con- 
spirator. Having placed his men so as to prevent 
any escape from the house, he at length entered the 
cottage and instituted a search for Mr. Stephens. 
Entering the sleeping apartment of that individual, 
the police found him quietly awaiting their approach, 
while his wife was still in bed. There he stood be- 
fore them, yet none dared to arrest him. There is 
a provision of English law which prohibits an arrest 
being made unless the person arresting is sure of the 
identity of the person he desires to capture. Not a 
man of them was familiar with the personal appear- 
ance of him for whose arrest there was so much 
money to be gained. 


This emergency had been provided for, and so 
complete were his precautions and foresight, that 
naught but the basest treachery could have given 
the authorities a clue to his retreat. At last some 
one cried out, " Where's Dawson ?" and that indi- 
vidual, a detective, having been summoned, pro- 
claimed the identity of Mr. Herbert with that of 
James Stephens. He was at once taken into cus- 
tody in the name of the Queen. Fifteen minutes 
elapsed from the time the police entered his bed- 
chamber before the arrest was made. Mrs. Stephens 
bore the arrest of her husband bravely, and when 
they parted, asked his permission to visit him in 
prison. He replied : " You cannot visit me in prison 
without asking permission of British officials, and I 
do not think it becoming in one so near to me as 
you are to ask favors of British dogs. You must 
not do it — I forbid it." 

The police, fully armed, soon started on their 
road to Dublin, having in charge Mr. Stephens and 
Messrs. Kickham, Duify, and Brophy, the other 
occupants of the cottage who had also been made 


By the time of their arrival in the city the police 
courts were open, and Mr. Stephens was imme- 
diately conveyed before Mr. Stronge to undergo a 
preliminary examination. The news of his arrest 
had spread throughout the city, and the excitement 
was intense. It was feared that an attempt would 
be made by his devoted admirers to rescue him 
from the hands of the police. The Prosecuting 
Attorney, Charles Barry, was present, and a distin- 


guished lawyer volunteered his services in behalf of 
Mr. Stephens. This was most emi)hatically refused 
by him in that bold and defiant language which no 
person ever dared to breathe before in public in 
Ireland, and which caused the most profound sensa- 
tion when heard. He said, addressing Mr. Stronge, 
" I have employed no lawyer, nor have I put in any 
plea in this case, neither do I intend to do so. By 
so doing, I should be recognising British law in Ire- 
land. Now, I conscientiously and deliberately re- 
pudiate the rightful existence of British law in Ire- 
land, and I scorn and defy any punishment it can 
inflict on me." The greatest excitement prevailed 
in the court-room in consequence of this defiant 
speech, and every man present felt that, in conse- 
quence, Mr. Stephens' doom was surely sealed. A 
few moments sufficed to conclude the examination, 
and the accused was remanded to prison for a fur- 
ther hearing. This occurred on Saturday ; on the 
following Tuesday he was again arraigned, and 
then formally committed to Richmond Prison to 
await his trial before a Special Commission which 
had already been ordered to convene. The other 
prisoners who were arrested at his house were also 
committed for trial. 


Mr. Stephens having been fully committed to await 
his trial upon a charge of high treason, found himself 
speedily locked within the walls of Richmond Prison. 
This prison, built of solid stone and surrounded by 
high walls, is considered the strongest and most 
secure place of confinement in Ireland. The four 



prisoners, Mr. Stephens, Brophy, Kickham, and 
Duffy, were escorted to the cells allotted to them. 
These were located on the second floor of the prison, 
and were at some distance from each other. The 
cell to the right of Mr. Stephens was untenanted, 
while the one between him and Kickham on the left 
was occupied by a convicted thief. This convict was 
employed by the Superintendent of the prison to 
assist in watching Mr. Stephens. A cord was 
fastened in his cell communicating with a bell in the 
Superintendent's office, and the convict, on hearing 
any unusual noise in the cell of the conspirator, or 
any attempt at rescue, was to give the alarm imme- 
diately. This spy testified, subsequently, that when 
the escape was finally eflected, although he heard 
the noise, he dared not ring the bell for fear of being 
killed. Notwithstanding the fancied security of the 
prison, the utmost vigilance was exercised by all the 
prison officials to prevent the possibility of the pri- 
soners holding communication Avith their friends. 
None but those enjoying the entire confidence of the 
prison officials were allowed to converse with them, 
and, with the exception of two hours per day, which 
were allowed for solitary promenade in the court-yard, 
they were securely locked within their cells. Aside 
from being so closely confined and guarded, they 
were treated with tolerable courtesy and kindness. 
During the early part of his imprisonment, Mr. Ste- 
phens had no hope of effecting his escape before 
trial, although his friends knew full well that the 
sentence which might be passed upon him could 
never be carried into effect. He knew that thou- 
sands of devoted followers stood ready and eager to 


do anything, even to sacrificing their lives, if neces- 
sary, to secure his release ; but he would not add to 
the complications in which they were involved by per 
mitting them to make any demonstration in his behalf. 
The excitement in Fenian circles, in consequence 
of the arrest and imprisonment, was most intense, 
and schemes for his rescue, some of which contem- 
plated the destruction of the prison, were discussed 
far and wide. These plans were all put aside by the 
bold and skilful man to whom Mr. Stephens had 
entrusted the direction of affairs during his incar- 
ceration. This man was Colonel Thomas J. Kelly, 
formerly a staff-officer in the army of the Cumber- 
land, who won his laurels and his promotion upon 
the battle-fields of West Virginia, Kentucky, and 
Tennessee. In April, 1865, Colonel Kelly, who, while 
still in the American army, had tendered his services 
for active work in Ireland, and who was then a tried 
and trusted Fenian, joined Mr. Stephens in Dublin, 
and during the few months succeeding his arrival, 
had displayed so much skill and ability as to win not 
only the confidence of his beloved chief, but the 
respect and good opinion of all the leading revolu- 
tionary spirits of the time. Colonel Kelly had re- 
solved, from the moment that Mr. Stephens was 
seized, that he should never be brought to trial, 
and he took measures to enforce that resolve, as will 
be seen. 


The arrrest, as we have stated, occurred on the morn- 
ing of the 11th of November, and a Special Commission 
had been ordered to convene on the 28th of the same 


month, before which the chief conspirator was to be 
tried. The plans of Colonel Kelly, to be of service, 
must be speedily executed, and that they were com- 
plete in every detail and successful in their result is 
already known. 

The details of the escape of Mr. Stephens from 
Richmond Prison, and the names of the persons who 
assisted therein, cannot be given to the public in full 
until the Irish Republic shall be recognised among the 
nations of the earth, and those prisons, which have 
proved the tombs of so many noble patriots, have be- 
come portions of its possessions. It is a fact, how- 
ever, that those who assisted in the escape were so 
completely masters of the situation, that for days they 
laughed to scorn all idea of their beloved chief being 
brought to trial. Indeed, the fact that he was to es- 
cape, and that the well-laid plans to secure his release 
would be put into effect on a certain night, was well 
known to the organization throughout the whole of 
Ireland, and had even been communicated to Colonel 
O'Mahony, in America ; yet so perfect was the 
organization, and so devoted its members, that not 
a whisper of such purpose ever reached the ears of 
British officials. Sufficient details of this escape, 
however, can be given here without criminating 
those who assisted therein, and who are yet resi- 
dents of their native land, to clear up somewhat the 
mystery which has surrounded this transaction, and 
which will, at least, have the merit of being truthful. 

There were in Dublin many men, some of whom 
had previously been employed within the prison, and 
others who had been confined there, who knew all 
its ins and outs, all its highways and byways. These 


men were now Soldiers of the Republic, devoted to 
theii Chief, willing to lay down their lives in his be- 
half, and sworn to obey the orders of the officers 
appointed over them. There were employes still 
in the prison, also, who were members of the organ- 
ization, who were ready to connive at the escape of 
the Central Organizer. But he who rendered the 
most important service was a British official, high 
in office, who, for a stipulated sum of money, fur- 
nished to Colonel Kelly wax impressions of the 
various locks of the prison. These impressions were 
taken to a skilful workman, still in Dublin, and from 
them he was enabled to construct skeleton keys, so 
deftly made that when the occasion came to use 
them it was found that the prison-bolts yielded as 
readily to them as they did to those in the hands of 
the officials. 

All arrangements having been made to the satis- 
faction of the Colonel, he, on the morning of the 
24th of November, together with a few other bold 
spirits, repaired to the prison. It was a cold night ; 
the rain fell in torrents, and the wind howled dis- 
mally through the almost deserted streets, as these 
few men hastened from different directions to the 
appointed rendezvous. The first thing to be done 
was to post sentinels at some distance from the 
prison, to guard all the approaches, to give the alarm 
if the movement was discovered, and to bring rein- 
forcements to the scene if necessary. Colonel Kelly, 
while making the rounds of these sentinels, encoun- 
tered a policeman in the vicinity of Love Lane, and 
that individual owes his life at the present moment, 
to the fact that his curiosity did not lead him to 


follow the person who was so quietly promenading 
the streets at that early morning hour. While 
skeleton keys had been prepared to unlock the doors 
leading from the prisoner's cell to the prison yard, 
it was well known that the outside gates were too 
well guarded to permit of their entering that way. 
But these men were fertile in resources. A rope 
thrown over the outside wall sufficed to enable two 
of them to climb to the top and lower themselves to 
the inside. 

One of those who thus entered the prison had 
formerly been employed there, and knew all that 
was necessary to know to effect their purpose. It 
appears that the Superintendent of the prison had, a 
short time before, become exceedingly economical 
in his views, and had consequently reduced the 
number of watchmen within the walls. Only one at 
a time was now required to be on duty, and lest he 
should prove negligent, a tell-tale clock was put up 
at regular intervals, by means of which the high dig- 
nitary who introduced the reform could tell whether 
or not the watchman had made his rounds at the 
proper time. The tour of duty was performed in 
this manner : the watchman, on starting upon his 
rounds, performed upon the first dial the operation 
known as " pegging the clock," which showed the 
time he entered upon his duty. Passing along the 
corridors, he was required to try every lock, ex- 
amine every door, and satisfy himself that every cell 
was occupied by the person assigned to it. At an- 
other point of his rounds, he encountered another 
tell-tale clock, which he was required to " peg " as he 
had the first, and so on throughout the entire prison 


until six clocks had been thus manipulated. The 
time occupied in making the rounds was one hour 
and a half. 

The old employe who had, by scaling the walls, 
stolen into the prison, as we have stated, knew to a 
minute what time each clock was to be " pegged," 
and the movements of the rescuing party were 
timed accordingly. Clock IS'o. 1 having been duly 
"pegged" on this particular morning, and the watch- 
man started on his tour of inspection, the two men 
who were so anxiously watching his movements fol- 
lowed slowly and softly behind him. The cell of 
Mr. Stephens was examined, the locks and bars 
found to be all correct, the prisoner apparently sleep- 
ing, and the watchman passed by, satisfied with his 
inspection. Scarcely had the sound of his footstep 
died out from within that ceil, when it was ap- 
proached by the two nameless individuals. Quickly 
the skeleton-key was applied to the lock, the bolts 
flew back, the barred door swung open, and " the 
captain," a moment since seemingly so sound asleep, 
stepped forth from the dismal cell and silently pressed 
the hands of his rescuers. But their work was not 
yet complete — barely commenced, in fact. In half 
an hour the watchman will return to clock IN'o. 1, 
and again commence "pegging" his rounds, and 
" the captain " must be beyond his reach before that 
time. Hastily the two mysterious persons, accom- 
panied by their chief, retraced their steps to where 
they had entered. Between the prison and the 
prison-garden there is a stone wall nearly twenty 
feet high. From the top of this dangled a rope-lad- 
der ; to mount this, and gain the summit of the wall, 


was but a moment's work. The rope-ladder was 
drawn up and lowered on the other side, and in 
another moment the three men had reached the pri- 
son-garden. Crossing this hastily, they approached 
another stone wall nearly as high as the one just 
scaled. The rope-ladder was once more brought 
into requisition, the top of the wall speedily gained, 
and at two o'clock and thirty-five minutes by the 
prison-clock, Mr. Stephens looked out upon the 
streets of Dublin. His friends outside were watch- 
ing for him, and as they saw his form on the top of 
the wall, these devoted individuals closed in toge- 
ther, bending their backs for him to drop upon. 
Lightly he sprang down, landing safely and unin- 
jured upon their shoulders, and he, for whose cap 
ture the British Government had made such prodi- 
gious efforts, stood upon his native soil once more 
a free man. His friends who had unlocked the door 
of his cell, having removed all traces of their flight, 
and having taken slight measures to mislead the 
authorities as to their mode of exit, hastily followed 
the example of their leader. 'No sooner had they 
landed than they immediately fled in diflerent dh*ec- 
tions. Colonel Kelly and one other alone remaining 
with Mr. Stephens. The three walked rapidly for 
a few squares, when the third person was sent away ; 
a few moments more and Mr. Stephens entered the 
house of a watching friend, and Colonel Kelly passed 
on to his lodgings. Both were drenched to the 
skin, splashed with mud, and their clothes bore evi- 
dence of the rough work they had encountered in 
scaling the prison- walls. 

Six persons in diflerent parts of the city and its 


suburbs had been led to expect Mr. Stephens that 
night ; all six kept their houses open awaiting his 
arrival, and had made every preparation to receive 
him. Colonel Kelly had anticipated every emergency 
which could arise, and had one mode of escape failed, 
another was open to him. Even had he been cap- 
tured in the undertakmg, his chief would still have 
escaped, and would have found his friends awaiting 
his arrival. The whole affair was most successfully 
managed, not one person about the prison being aware 
that the conspirator's cell was empty until four o'clock 
the /ollowing morning, unless, indeed, that official 
who furnished the impressions from which the skele- 
ton keys were made, saw, in his dreams, tlie successful 
issue of the work to which he had contributed so 
much. Had any difficulty presented itself in the way 
of Mr. Stephens' escape that night, blood would 
doubtless have been shed. His friends did not en- 
counter the danger of entering Richmond Prison 
without being prepared to force their way out, and 
each one, including Mr. Stephens, was well armed. 
Any person who would have ventured to oppose 
them would have been speedily put out of the way. 
If help had been needed, help was at hand. Eight 
thousand men were that night assembled at different 
points within the limits of the city of Dublin, ready 
to answer any call that might be made upon them 
by those whom they recognised as their leaders. 
Had there been any disturbance at the prison, that 
call would have been made, and these eight thousand 
men, ignorant of the reason why they were waiting, 
but knowing full well that some movement in the 
cause of Irish liberty was being made, would have 



made an onslaught upon Richmond Prison which 
would have reduced it to ruins. But, fortunately, 
this was not necessary. The daring revolutionary 
spirit had escaped from its walls, and was then as 
free as any Irishman in Ireland. 

Mr. Stephens remained quietly at the house of 
the friend with whom he first lodged after leaving 
prison for over two weeks, and could, from his 
chamber-window, look out upon two sides of those 
stone walls which had, for thirteen days, shut him 
out from the world. Great was the hue and cry 
set up when his escape became known ; again were 
the energies of the government bent upon his 
capture. The reward of £200 previously offered 
for his apprehension was increased to nearly £2,000, 
and numerous small rewards were offered by in- 
dividuals. Mr. Stephens looked laughingly on 
while the detectives were stumbling by his hiding- 
place, and he frequently ventured forth into the 
streets of an evening and enjoyed his quiet walk 
and a cigar. He received the leading men of the 
Fenian organization occasionally at his rooms, and 
communicated with them all. Colonel Kelly, to 
whose skill and daring his escape was due, was the 
trusted Lieutenant of Mr. Stephens, and through 
him the business connected with the organization 
was mainly transacted. The Colonel occupied a 
suite of apartments in the busy part of the city, 
frequently met the Fenian leaders there, and yet 
was never even suspected by the vigilant police. 
With the exception of one night, Mr. Stephens did 
not sleep outside the limits of the city of Dublin 
from the time of his escape from prison until the 


13th of March following, at which time he left 
Ireland for Paris on his way to America. 

It was with feelings of the deepest regret that 
Mr. Stephens resolved to make the trip to America. 
The organization at home sadly needed his entire 
attention. The excitement consequent upon the 
arrests of Fenians, which were still being made by 
the government, was intense, and the British offi- 
cials were congratulating themselves that dismay 
had seized upon and annihilated the Brotherhood. 
That a deep gloom had fallen upon the revolutionists 
was true ; they had seen their companions dragged 
to prison by hundreds upon a bare suspicion, and 
the myrmidons of the oppressor were still at work ; 
but disheartened or dismayed they were not. The 
spirit was ripe, and the determination for revolution 
more fixed than ever. Yet it needed the cool head 
and clear intellect of the Chief Organizer to steer 
the organization clear of all breakers. But the 
success of future movements depended upon the 
union of the opposing factions in America, and he 
believed that he could accomplish this. 


The history of the unfortunate complications in 
American Fenian afiairs, may be thus briefly 
summed up : 

Colonel O'Mahony, the President of the organiza- 
tion, by persistently refusing to countenance any 
attempt at an invasion of Canada, had become quite 
unpopular. The Central Council had, despite the 
protest of Colonel O'Mahony, called a convention of 
State delegates, at which convention a Fenian Con- 


stitution was adopted. This document provided for 
a Senate, a War Department, a State Department, a 
Financial Department, and all the machinery of a 
Republican Government, and virtually robbed the 
President of a large portion of that power which 
had heretofore been vested in him. His hold upon 
the Brotherhood now rested ahnost solely upon the 
fact that his course was approved by Mr. Stephens and 
the Irish organization. The arrest of Mr. Stephens, 
it was believed, would not only prove his death-blow, 
but would also destroy Colonel O'Mahony's influence. 
The bonds of the Irish Republic were in process of 
printing, and the individual who had been selected 
as their custodian, had sent his signature to the 
engraver that a fac-simile of it might be made. The 
Senate finally objected to the issuing of the bonds, 
and their custodian refused to attach to them bis 
signature. Knowing how much the cause at home 
was dependent on prompt action in America, Colonel 
O'Mahony had decided upon signing the bonds him- 
self, and putting them in the market. The Senate took 
ofience at this, and a session being called, a stormy 
debate ensued, at the conclusion of which Colonel 
O'Mahony was voted out of office, and Colonel Wm. 
R. Roberts chosen as his successor. But Colonel 
O'Mahony was not to be ousted so easily ; he had 
many personal friends, and still more believed that 
his policy of sending assistance to the men at home 
was preferable to the Canadian scheme. These ad- 
hered to his fortunes, and he found himself still at 
the head of a powerful party. Party spirit ran high, 
and for a long time the press of the country teemed 
with the sayings and doings of the two factious. 


This invasion of British dominions in America, 
and the seizure of certain towns from which lai'ge 
ships could be dispatched to all ports of the world 
through the rapid waters of the broad St. Lawrence 
river, had long been a favorite scheme of one party ; 
and, though bitterly opposed by the other, its advo- 
cates had never ceased to urge it earnestly at all 
times and all places, in season and out of season. 
There were some other minor points discussed be- 
tween the Fenian leaders, but the original cause of 
the breach in the ranks does not seem to have 
been anything more than a mere difference of opi- 
nion between some of the leaders as to the manner in 
which the campaign which is to break the British 
yoke was to be inaugurated. That a blow was to 
be struck at once was a point already decided on 
and agreed to by all the prominent men in the in- 
most or directing Circle of the Brotherhood. The 
disputed point was, "Where was England's most 
vulnerable, and at the same time, most accessible 
point ? Would it be feasible to fight the first battle 
on Irish soil, thus literally bearding the lion in his 
den, or would it be advisable to adopt the plan of 
first securing a foothold somewhere on the American 
Continent from whence to deliver the first blow in 
the coming combat ? " In behalf of the latter plan, it 
was urged that it would be comparatively easy to 
seize upon some portion of the Canadian shore by a 
sudden raid, possess themselves of the principal Cana- 
dian towns, and thus, by a bold stroke, prove to the 
world that their claims to be considered among the 
" powers " were not wholly absurd, and their hopes 
of ultimate success not entirely chimerical. By this 


proceeding, it was argued, they would at once pos- 
sess themselves of large quantities of much needed 
war material, and secure sites for military and naval 
depots, where they could assemble and organize 
their forces ; through the great St. Lawrence river 
they could dispatch their ships, laden with troops 
and munitions of war. This undertaking, if success- 
ful, would give them a claim upon the nations to be 
• accorded the rights of legitimate belligerents, and not 
to be regarded as a mere revolutionary horde, and 
to be treated as pirates if captured while engaged in 
destroying or damaging English commerce on the 
high seas. It was urged tliat it would be useless to 
attempt to throw a heavy force of soldiers into Ire- 
land, except by the means of large and thoroughly 
equipped men-of-war which should be amply able to 
fight their way in case of being attacked by British 
cruisers. The possession of the large towns on the 
St. Lawreuce would give them the opportunity to 
man and load the large ships which they proposed 
to purchase. 

The opponents of this scheme objected to it, not 
so much that it seemed unlikely to succeed, as 
that it would almost of necessity involve a breach of 
the neutrality laws, and so invite the immediate and 
peremptory interference of the United States. It 
was also said, that the money of the organization 
had been given by the donors to be used on Irish 
soil, in aid of the struggling patriots on the Green 
Isle itself, and that to use it in any other way would 
be a perversion of the fund from its legitimate ob- 
jects, and an inexcusable breach of good faith with 
the generous Irish sympathizers in this country, bj 


■whom every dollar had been given; and that it 
would also be a death-blow to the eager hopes of 
the " Men in the Gap," who have been so often and 
so positively promised aid from America, without 
which all their plans must fail, and all their sacrifices 
count as nothing. 

Many and anxious were the discussions of the 
two plans by the Fenian leaders ; but argument, 
instead of convincing, seemed only to aggravate dif- 
ferences, to engender personal animosities, and to 
stir up " Envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitable- 

Time brought no healing on his wings, but day 
by day the strife grew more bitter. The advocates 
of the Canadian invasion, headed by Mr. Wm. 
R. Roberts and General Thomas W. Sweeny (who 
had served with distuiction in the Union armies, 
during the Slaveholders' Rebellion), would not yield 
their point ; and the other party, under the influence 
of O'Mahony, as positively refused to adopt the 
policy of their opponents. 

Despite the discouragement of the O'Mahony 
wing, the Roberts men proceeded actively in their 
operations, and bought a large quantity of guns and 
other war-stores, enlisted their men, and, having 
decided on their objective point in Canada, all 
things were soon declared to be nearly in readiness. 

Perceiving that the Roberts men were resolved on 
their Canadian attempt, Mr. O'Mahony finally yield- 
ed to a plan of Mr. B. Doran Killian's, which that 
gentleman had persistently and forcibly urged for 
some time. This was to organize a movement on 
Canada in opposition to the Roberts' raid, and by 


hurrying their own men first to that ground, to thus 
foil Roberts with his own weapons. They would 
thus earn for themselves all the eclat that was to be 
gained by being the first to inaugurate Fenian hos- 
tilities, and also to strike a bold blow at the hated 
Lion of England in his own dominions. Though 
his better judgment never approved the plan, at the 
last moment O'Mahony gave a most reluctant con- 
sent, and the movement was begun. 

It is not our province, in this little book, to relate 
in detail the features of that lamentable Campo 
Bello fiasco. Suffice it to say, that it was a most 
ludicrous failure in every point. The whole plan, 
from its earliest inception to its ridiculous termina- 
tion, seemed to be known in advance to the British 
authorities, who took measures to countercheck any 
move which could be made. 

Discouraged, disheartened, sick, sore, sad, and 
sorry, the discomfited Fenians dispersed, and, with 
millions of hearty curses upon all connected with 
the management, or m^5management of the afiair, 
they slowly found their way back to their respective 

Of course the breach was now wider than ever, 
and the bitter recriminations of one party provoked 
retorts quite as savage and severe. 

During the early progress of the Campo Bello 
scheme, while, in fact, it was in its infancy, a grand 
meeting of delegates convened from the Circles 
which remained true to the O'Mahony interest, 
and in a rapid but exceedingly busy session, they, 
with wonderful unanimity, expelled O'Mahony from 
his office as Head Centre of the Fenian Organiza- 


tion. . Killian was also similarly expelled, and both 
were notified to turn over their books, documents, 
and funds, to a committee that had been appointed 
to take charge of them, and who were to manage 
the affairs of the Brotherhood until the arrival of 
Stephens, who was soon expected. 

Meantime, the Roberts party, with their " Sen- 
ate " and their Secretaries of War and the Kavy, 
etc., still kept on as before, with much talk of 
mighty warlike preparations being made in secret. 

This was the condition of affairs at the time of 
the advent of the great Chief Organizer on the 10th 
of May, 1866. The breach he was expected to heal 
seemed too wide to be spanned, but the Chief Or- 
ganizer went manfully about the difficult task. How 
he succeeded Time alone can show, for as yet the 
problem is unsolved. 

^ ^ V* ^ •}• "J* ^ 


To set about this great work, it was necessary for 
Mr. Stephens to come to America. And accord- 
ingly, on the 11th of March, he left Dublin in com- 
pany with Colonel Kelly and proceeded to a small 
harbor on the coast, where arrangements *had been 
made to have a schooner in waiting to convey him 
to France. But a storm coming up prevented the 
schooner entering the harbor, and the two conspira- 
tors were compelled to remain over night. In the 
morning, a British revenue cutter came into the 
port, and all hope of getting aboard the schooner 
was destroyed. The two then returned to Dublin 


and made other arrangements. On the following 
day, Mr. Stephens drove through the streets of Dub- 
lin in an open carriage, alighted at one of the docks, 
and going on board a small schooner, was soon float 
ino- with the tide out of the harbor to the Eng;lisb 
Channel. Colonel Kelly was again his companion 
Entering the Channel, they encountered head winds 
and stormy weather ; were driven out of their course 
many miles, and finally were forced to put into Car- 
rickfergus Bay. Again, they essayed to cross the 
Channel, and again encountered head winds and 
rough weather, but finally succeeded in making the 
little town of x\rdrossan in Scotland. Here a car 
was procured which conveyed them to a neighbor- 
ing railway station, where they took the train to 
London. Neither was disguised in any manner, and 
the entire journey was made openly without any at- 
tempt at concealment. That night, on their arrival 
in London, the Chief of the Irish Conspiracy and 
his Lieutenant slept at the Palace Hotel, directly 
opposite Buckingham Palace. The passage through 
England was made on St, Patrick's Day, the eighth 
anniversary of the Fenian Conspiracy. The English 
newspapers at this time were in the midst of a panic 
created by the rumors which reached them from the 
manufacturing districts. In these districts Fenian- 
ism was wide-spread among the workmen, and they 
had threatened that, in case England pursued 
towards the Fenians in Ireland the policy she had 
threatened, they would retaliate by burning all the 
manufacturing towns and destroying English pro- 
perty wherever found. At this time, Sir Hugh Rose, 
known as " The Butcher of India," was the com- 


niandant of Her Majesty's forces in Irelaitl, and had 
sought authority to pursue towards the Fenians the 
same course he had adopted with the rebel Sepoys 
in India, viz. blow them from the mouths of his 
cannon, roast them alive, etc., etc. The Irish in 
England indicated their determination to retaliate 
on English soil in case any such horrible outrages 
were perpetrated upon their brother-Irishmen at 
home. The country press was justly alarmed, and 
great excitement prevailed in consequence. Having 
rested themselves sufficiently, Mr. Stephens and 
Colonel Kelly took the train to Dover, thence to 
Calais, and, on the night of the 18th of April, re- 
lieved of all thought of danger, and beyond the 
reach of their persecutors, they slept peacefully in 

Mr. Stephens, while in Paris, was cordially re- 
ceived by many prominent French noblerAen and 
politicians, among whom was the Marquis de Boissy. 
At his house the Irish revolutionist ate and drank, 
receiving from his kind host words of sympathy and 
encouragement. While in Paris, Mr. Stephens was 
joined by his wife, and having provided for her a 
proper residence in which to remain during his 
American visit, he was prepared to leave the land 
in which he had, for the third time, found so many 
friends in the hour of his trouble. 


On the 28th day of March he embarked from 
Havre in the steamship Napoleon HI., and, after a 
voyage of thirteen days, the " Central Organizer of 


the Irish Republic" arrived in New York on the 
evening of Thursday, May 10, 1866. His arrival 
had been expected for several days, and the two or 
three hours' notice given by the outlying telegraph 
at Sandy Hook, was amply sufficient for the gather- 
ing of a large and most enthusiastic crowd which 
assembled about the dock where the French steamer 
was to land her passengers. 

Would it be well to attempt to describe the feel- 
ing among the Fenians ? We think not. A more 
excited set of men and women was never known. 
A Committee from the Moffat mansion had been 
appointed to receive the distinguised Conspirator, 
and were anxiously awaiting him at the dock, Mr. 
Stephens was first seen and recognised by the Com- 
mittee as the ship was swinging her stern into the slip, 
and when recognised he was cheered vociferously by 
the Committeemen and others who had been admitted 
within the gates. These plaudits assured the great 
multitude outside and on neighboring wharves that 
the chief of the Fenians was really about to step on 
American soil, and they took up the cheers and 
threw their hats high in air in unbounded enthusi- 
asm. The news of the distinguised arrival had been 
communicated to the shipping in the harbor, and the 
passing steamers blew a deafening welcome, while 
a piece of Fenian artillery on the New Jersey shore 
thundered forth a national salute. The masses of 
human beings on West street and on the wharves — 
and particularly outside the gates of Pier No. 50 — 
became denser and denser as the minutes flew on, and 
the number of privileged persons who were per- 
mitted to pass the gates grew apace, until the ship 


was ready to take aboard her gang-plank. At this 
moment the pressure towards the ship's gangway- 
was not only decidedly uncomfortable but really 
perilous; a platoon of policemen soon cleared the 
required space, and when the gang-plank had been 
properly adjusted, the distinguished guest of the 
Committee appeared, leaning on the arm of Colonel 
Kelly. A deafening huzza went up, and in another 
moment the Fenian Chief was in the midst of his 
Irish-American friends. A brief consultation ensued, 
and Mr. Stephens and staiF, consisting of Capt. M. E. 
O'Brien, of Keokuk, Iowa; Lieut. William Smith 
O'Brien, of Detroit ; Lieut. James M. Gibbons, of 
New York, and Chief-Engineer Thomas Moore, were 
conducted to the coaches in waiting. 

The impetuosity of a Celtic- American crowd is 
proverbial. The one which gathered on the 
wharves and in the streets that day was particularly 
so ; and the wild and enthusiastic Fenians, in their 
unbridled love for their chief, came near killing 
him with kindness before they had fairly made his 

Outside the gates the crush was fearful. It was 
with extreme difficulty that the Committee were 
able to get Mr. Stephens and staff safely into their 
carriages and off the pier ; and it is indeed matter 
of wonder that of the multitudes who climbed upon 
the vehicles, and almost fell under the horses' feet 
in endeavoring to get their hands through the coach 
windows and into those of Stephens, not one was the 
victim of any accident. 

The coaches were driven off at a moderate trot 
up Barrow-street, with a noisy multitude bringing 


up the rear and on the sides of the street ; and this 
crowd rapidly augmented until, on the arrival of the 
party at the Metropolitan Hotel, it filled Broadway 
from curb to curb. 

In the course of the many interviews which Mr. 
Stephens held with his friends and admirers that 
evening, though they were, from the nature of the 
circumstances, short and hurried, he assured his 
friends that he had not even dreamed of making the 
transit of the Atlantic until long after the disastrous 
division occurred in the Fenian organization here, 
and he should not even now have come had not 
many warm friends urged him to visit America with 
a view to harmonizing the Fenian Order. He had 
come to conciliate and to win, if possible, every true 
Irishman over to one common Centre, through whom 
the great work of liberating Ireland may yet be 
made an accomplished fact. The people of Ireland 
were ripe for the shock of war in September last, and 
he had no doubt that Ireland might have now been 
one of the sovereign nations of the earth had it not 
been for the rupture of the organization here. But 
even if the nation's independence could not have 
been achieved in so short a time, certainly the power 
of the British army in Ireland could have been 
broken, and by this time England would have lost 
her foothold everywhere except on the coast and in 
the seaboard cities. But he said the work may yet 
be wrought out if Irishmen in America will make a 
united effort. He was willing that bygones should 
be bygones, and that all past acrimonious speeches 
might be now forgotten, and all private animosities 
merged in the one desire to place the cause of Ire- 


land on a sure and hopeful footing. For his own 
part, he Dromised to throw himself unreservedly into 
any measure which should promise to hasten that 
great and glorious future which he so fondly antici- 
pates for his native land, no matter by whom such a 
scheme or plan should be originated. 


The personal appearance of Mr. Stephens made a 
decidedly favorable impression upon the many 
friends who called to see him at his hotel. He is a 
thick-set, wiry-looking man, about five feet three or 
four inches tall, and dresses in a jDlain, simple busi- 
ness suit. His head is quite bald, revealing a bold, 
prominent forehead. What hair he has is of a light 
color, wavy in appearance, and very fine. His com- 
plexion is florid, his eye keen and penetrating. The 
expression of his face is mild, and, when lighted up 
with smiles, his eyes beaming with mirth, is very plea- 
sant to look upon. His manners are exceedingly afia- 
ble and agreeable, and his language betokens the true 
Irish gentleman. The words which flow from his 
mouth are tinged with that " sweet Irish brogue " 
which is so pleasant to hear when spoken by persons 
of cultivation. 

The subjoined " Phrenological Description " of 
Mr. Stephens is so good and true that it is worthy 
of being copied : 

" His is the face of a man who is confessedly the most accom- 
plished ' conspirator,' or organizer of conspiracy, Ireland has seen 
since the days of the gallant and self-devoted Theobald Wolfe 
Tone. But I see no resemblance between the two men. In the 
portrait of Tone you have a delicate, slender face, which would 
be almost womanish but for the firm chin, the nervous-breathing 


nostril, and the quick-glancing, brilliant eye. This is a comely 
face, too, but of a different order. Tone's was fiery, soldierly ; 
the prevailing expression here, at first sight, is unqualified l)on- 
homie — the unruffled good-humor of a man who is content with 
himself and all the world beside. 

" Look a little more closely at this face. Meeting its owner in 
the street, in this bearded age, you would pass him. by as a re- 
spectable citizen in ihe prime of life (engaged in commerce, per- 
haps), the placid serenity of whose mind was not disturbed by 
even the thought of a bill of exchange to be met on the fourth 
of the month. There is a quiet smile on the mouth and a cheerful 
gleam, a very amusing twinkle of dry humor in the eyes — no 
more. Sarely thousands who have seen this portrait must have 
felt sadly disappointed. The general English mind pictured the 
original as a modern G-uy Fawkes: a dark, frowning villain, who 
lurked in hidden places, and went abroad at night, with revolv- 
ers in his bosom and a dagger in his sleeve — a keen-eyed, hook- 
nosed, thin-lipped, sloucliing fellow, who would as soon blow the 
Lord-lieutenant, and the privy council, and the bishops to boot 
into eternity, as bless himself What a disappointment to those 
who conjured up such a picture, this placid, good-humored, self- 
contented face must be. 

" But look again. The face of a fair-haired man this is, with 
bald temples and flowing beard. The forehead is unusually 
massive, but so rounded and dome-like in shape as to have that 
massiveness much softened down. What the phrenologists would 
call the organs of benevolence and ideality are very large. The 
perceptive organs are remarkably well developed, as are those 
of locality and time; and I have never seen what is called the 
organ of individuality more largely developed, except in one or 
two great actors. If there be the least shadow of truth in the 
so-called science of phrenology, the owner of this face must be a 
marvellous reader of character. This is what is called a ' well- 
bred ' face ; the expression is decidedly gentlemanly, and you 
could not possibly conceive the original being obtrusive or self- 
asserting in general company; on the contrary, I should set him 
down as a retiring person. But clear through all this outward 
show, as through a filmy veil, comes another and a deeper ex- 
pression — the inner man. I read absolute and unbounded self- 
reliance ; firm, calm, indomitable, iron will ; unqualified behef in 
a cause, and unshaken confidence in its ultimate success in spite 
of every disaster. Here is the face of a man whom no defeat 
conquers ; stopped and baulked on one path without fretting or 
chafing, he calmly turns to another, and marches on. With a 
massive brain, (and so equally balanced a brain I have, perhaps, 
never seen, as this portrait seems to indicate), teeming with in- 
exhaustible resources, he flings away his failing scheme, without 
a moment's hesitation, to grasp at a new one, and runs the whole 
scale of plot and contrivance with the ease of an artist at his piano. 


" No failure can daunt such a man ; with such a man, to cease 
to strive is to cease to live. This all-abounding faith in himself 
and his cause, and inexhaustible fertility of resources, would buoy 
him up amid the billows of an ocean of disasters. But there is 
another characieristic of which mention should not be omitted. 
This portrait indicates a man singularly gifted with the power of 
winning the affection and confidence of others. It is not that 
graceful bonho7nie, that hearty manner, that genial sjnile (which, 
by the way, cannot overmaster the keen, clear, piercing glance of 
the eye), which helped him alone in this ; it is, that the magnetic 
power of his own unbounded faith inspires like faith in the breasts 
of others. In conclusion, this is the face of a man of great vital 
power and intense nervous energy. The blending of oak-like firm- 
ness and velvet softness which I read in this fine head and face is 
very singular ; it recalls the old idea of the iron hand in the velvet 
glove. This head is a noble specimen of the Soutliern Irish type, 
which I have already pointed out. But, talking of hands, have you 
ever noted how a man's hand serves as an index of character ? In 
the portrait before me, the arms are folded, and the left hand rests 
on tlie right arm. It is soft and white, with long tapering pre- 
hensile fingers. A very significant hand, that, not so much ex- 
pressive of power as of undjnng tenacity of purpose. At the foot 
of the portrait, I read the name — James Stephens." 



On the evening following the arrival of Mr. Ste- 
phens in N'ew York, he was serenaded at his hotel. 
A dense crowd collected in the street, completely 
blocking it up from curb to curb for the distance of 
an entire square. At eleven o'clock, Mr. Stephens 
appeared upon the balcony of the hotel, his presence 
being greeted by the crowd with tremendous cheers, 
flinging up of hats, etc. He thanked theni kind- 
ly for the honor done him, but declined making a 
lengthy speech until such time as he should have 
made himself more familiar with the existing troubles 
among his countrymen in America. The enthusi- 
astic multitude would scarcely permit him to retire, 
insisting upon being allowed the privilege of looking 


at him though he said not a word. Upon being 
assured that he would address thera at a future day, 
he was allowed to return to his rooms. 

The first official act performed by Mr. Stephens 
after his arrival in New York was the acceptance of 
the resignation of Colonel John O'Mahony as Head 
Centre of the Fenian Brotherhood. The following 
correspondence, in reference to this patriotic move 
on the part of Colonel O'Mahony, explains the mo- 
tives w^hich prompted him to such action : 

Headquarters F. B., ) 

New York, May 11, 1866. \ 
James Stephens^ G. E. F. B. : 

Brother: I feel it to be imperatively incumbent upon me, at 
this momentous crisis in Irish affairs, to tender you my resigna- 
tion as the Head Centre of the Fenian Brotherhood and Agent of 
the Irish Republic. 

My reasons for this step are twofold. The first is my con- 
sciousness of the fact that in consenting to the recent disastrous 
attempt to capture Campo Bello, I violated my duty, not alone to 
the Fenian Brotherhood and the Irish Republic, but to the best 
interests of the Irish race, as also to my previous unvaried policy. 
It matters little now to recapitulate what were the arguments 
and what the pressure brought to bear upon me in order to force 
me to depart from my settled plan of action. Enough that the 
attempt has ended in disaster — that the energies of the Brother- 
hood have been paralysed, and that, unless you can restore it to 
hope and vigor, its object will have been defeated and its long 
years of hopeful trial will have ended in a fiasco. 

My second reason for resigning arises from a hope that I shall 
thereby remove an obstacle to union upon a common Irish plat- 
form, under your guidance, among all of my countrymen that are 
true and sincere in the cause of our native land. Mixed up as I 
have been in the recent quarrels among the American Fenians, 
many good Irishmen may regard me with feehngs of personal 
hostility with which they cannot now regard you. 

Trusting that your advent to America, at the present juncture, 
may be productive of all the good to our race that the Fenian 
Brotherhood and myself expect of it, and that it may promote 
unity of plan and concert of action, fraternal harmony with sted- 
fast hope and firm resolve in the Fenian ranks, I have the honor 
to remain in fraternity, 

Your obedient servant. 

John O'Mahony, H. C. F. B. 


Mr. Stephens' acceptance of the resignation is 

couched in the following language : 

Metropolitan Hotel, New York, May 11, 1866. 
To John GMahony, Esq. : 

Brother : In my opinion you have acted wisely and patriotically 
in tendering your resignation under actual circumstances. No man 
worth that name questions your honor and devotion to Ireland. 
But the united action we desire so much, and to effect which I 
left Ireland, at your invitation, would be impossible while you di- 
rected affairs here. It must be needless to tell you why. I feel 
bound, however, to say that, in sanctioning the late most deplorable 
divergence from the true path, you not only gave proof of weak- 
ness, but committed a crime less excusable in you than any other 
man. For you should have known that your project, however 
successful, would have resulted in our ruin. And you should have 
recollected how I supported you in a critical moment, because I 
believed you were opposed to every project that would lead the 
true Irishmen of this continent from the original aim and holiest 
duty of the Fenian Brotherhood — direct assistance to the ' men 
in the gap.' Everything considered then, I feel imperatively 
called on to accept your resignation. But while accepting it I 
still rely upon your hearty cooperation, as I now rely on the co- 
operation of every true man of our race. 

Convinced that the Irish people are with me everywhere, I 
have not a doubt of being able to accomplish what I came for ; 
and so, in good cheer, and unswerving faith, I am yours, fraternally, 

James Stephens, C. 0. 1. R. 

This act af Colonel O'Mahony was considered 
by the members of the Brotherhood as an unsel- 
fish and purely patriotic proceeding, and gave 
universal satisfaction. It was hoped and be- 
lieved that the example would be followed by the 
leader of the other Fenian wing, and that Colonel 
Roberts would at once proffer his resignation. 

But this was not to be. The Senate would not 
listen to the proposition, that body having become 
too fully committed to the Canadian invasion policy 
to permit them to recede. In justice to Mr. Rob- 
erts, however, it should be stated that he expressed 
his earnest wish to do whatever should be deemed 


best for his native country, and to unite the Brother- 
hood in America. 



The Fenian Brotherhood of New York, desiring 
to give Mr. Stephens a public reception, and also to 
affording him an opportunity of explaining to his 
countrymen the condition of affairs in their native 
land, resolved upon holding an open-air festival. 
Jones' Wood, a large park in the suburbs of the 
city, was the place selected for this demonstration, 
and Tuesday, May 15th, the time appointed. The 
time for preparation was short ; and the notices of 
the meeting were not so generally circulated as they 
should have been. An admission fee of half a dollar 
was charged, the proceeds to be immediately turned 
over to Mr. Stephens for the benefit of the cause in 
Ireland. Despite these drawbacks, and the fact that 
the meeting was held on a week-day, when few me- 
chanics could leave their workshops, a great crowd 
was present. Not less than 15,000 people contri- 
buted to the enthusiasm of the occasion. 

A large number of Fenian Circles sent duly ap- 
pointed delegates, most of whom were assigned to 
duty in the preservation of good order and the sale 
of tickets. Members of the following, among other 
circles, were present, bearing flags, banners, and 
mottoes, and marching to the sound of the ever 
popular and stirring music of dear old Erin. Ham- 
ilton Rowan Club, Brian Boru, Malachi, McHale, 
Renburg, Red Hand, Wolfe Tone Cadets, Davis, 
Fontenoy Cadets, Corcoran, Brother Sheares, Lor 


ville, Clontarf, O'Mahony, Tara, Faugh-a-ballagh, 
James Stephens, Garryowen, Long Island, Con- 
naught Rangers, Sarsfield, Stephens, Hibernia, Wolf 
Tone, Roek of Cashel, O'Gorman, Killian, Geral- 
dine, Clark Luby, Richard D. Williams, Hugh 
O'Neil, Garryowen Cadets, Michael Moore, St. 
Patrick, Irish People, Volunteers of 1782, Thomas 
Francis Meagher, O'Regan, General Kearney, 
McClellan, Gem of the Sea, Robert Emmet, Patrick 
Henry, Sarsfield Cadets, Owen Roe O'N'eill, Napper 
Tandy, Lord Clare, Harp of Erin, Dungannon, Vol- 
unteers of 1782, Dalcette, Hope, Montgomery, 
Vinegar Hill, John O'Leary, O'Donnell-Aboo, St. 
Lawrence O'Toole, Cahir O'Doughty, IN'eptune, 
J. Barry, and United Irishmen. 

Among those persons present in the Committee- 
room to receive the distinguished leader of the Irish 
people, were Major-General Joe Hooker and Briga- 
dier-General Ruggles, of General Meade's stafl'; 
Judge Connolly and Denis J. Gaffney, of Albany, 
who studied law with Thomas Addis Emmet ; Colo- 
nel P. J. Downing, John J. Marion, Centre, of Al- 
bany ; Colonel Thomas Philip O'Reilly, of General 
Sherman's staff; Michael R. Kenney, State Centre, 
N'ew Jersey ; John McKenna, Troy, State Centre, 
New York ; Jeremiah Kavanagh, California. 

At half-past two o'clock an order was issued to 
those in the reception-room to fall in procession. 
When the movement commenced, all was smooth 
sailing till it came in contact with the crowd out- 
side, when such a rush took place as displaced the 
guard who were clearing a passage. Mr. Stephens 
was hurried through a narrow space by a few mem- 


bers of the Committee, and though there was a con- 
tinual pressure of the crowd in whatever point he 
advanced, he treated them in the style of his retreat 
from Richmond Prison. While some of his attend- 
ants were tugging with the crowd to save their coat- 
skirts, he was up the ladder and in his position on 
the platform. An indiscriminate throng, with over- 
powering force, swept policemen and guards aside 
and gained the summit. Efforts were made to stem 
the pressure, in which some luckless individuals 
were precipitated from their lofty eminence to the 
nether regions. Everything was now chaos, and the 
"hero of Richmond," proverbial for ingenuity and 
stratagem, executed a flank movement on the be- 
wildered occupants of the platform. He descended, 
and without much difficulty took his stand on the 
small stage adjacent. 

After order and silenctft were to some extent ob- 
tained, Mr. Stephens proceeded to address the assem- 
blage as follows : 

Friends of Ireland,— Towards the close of December, 1857, 
a young Irishman called at my residence in Dublin, bringing me 
letters from Colonel O'Mahony and from the late Colonel Michael 
Doheny. He had also an oral communication to make himself; 
but all was to the effect that an organization had been esta- 
blished in A.merica, of which Colonel Doheny was appointed the 
chief, and I was requested to commence an organization and to 
direct it in Ireland. At that time the cause of Ireland was so 
low at home as well as abroad — in fact, throughout the world — 
that few men of any brains or position could be got to take part 
in it. They did not know the people. The Irish people were 
then, as ever, sound. Their hearts were in the right place, and 
they only required to be shown what to do that they might do 
it. On my return to Ireland after seven years' exile, the lirst 
thing I did was to travel through the country in every direction 
to derive a thorough knowledge of the people, and to see what 
could be done. I devoted a whole year to that, during which 
time I travelled three thousand miles on foot. (A Voice — " Were 


you ever in Tipperary ? " (Cheers.) Yes, often. There is not a 
spot from Slievenamon to BalUnderry that I don't know. (G-rfiat 
cheering.) You know the words of Thomas Davis, 

From Carrick-on-Suir to Galtamore, 
From Slievenamon to Ballinderry. (Great cheering.) 

You see I know it. "With this knowledge of the people I con- 
scientiously answered the letters of ray friends in America, and 
on certain conditions I undertook to organize a force of ten thou- 
sand men in three months in Ireland. I undertook to do no 
more at that time. The conditions I exacted were twofold. 
First, that I should have absolute direction and control of the 
organization. I believe that you know this was a conspiracy, 
and a conspiracy in Ireland against British rule. And I believe it 
utterly impossible for any oppressed nationality to organize such 
a power as could effect its independence without a conspiracy, 
and without one man having the supreme control in that conspi- 
racy. For that reason, and for that alone, in the interest of the 
movement I undertook to unite, I deemed it necessary to make 
that the first condition — that I should have supreme control of the 
organization. The second condition was that I should be sup- 
plied with certain sums of money per month. I asked for the 
small sura of from £80 to £100 a month for the first three 
months. After this time, having organized ten thousand men, I 
meant to have made other proposals. I sent a trusted friend, 
who has since been in an Irish prison, to America, on that occa- 
sion, with my answer. On the 17th March, 1858, he returned; 
he had found no organization in America, only a kw devoted 
men, at the head of which was Mr. Doheny — (a voice — " Poor 
fellow, I knew him well ! ") — who had held together against all 
circumstances in America, and who were then endeavoring to 
keep the Irish feeling alive and make it a pov;^er there. But he 
found no organization. There was but this nucleus of twenty or 
thirty men. They accepted my conditions and sent me a paper 
endorsing, so far as thej' could endorse it, my action in Ireland. 
On the 17th of March, then, 1858, I began the organization in 
Ireland. As I told you, it was a conspiracy. To become a mem- 
ber of this conspiracy it was necessary to take an oath. You 
have heard a good deal on the subject of this oath, but perhaps 
you have not heard my real reason for making it an essential con- 
dition of membership. I had been in the movement in 1848 
with Smith O'Brien, and we found when we had a hundred, or 
two or three hundred men around us, if we happened to meet 
in any place where the clergymen happened to be against 
the movement, they invariably spoke against it, and they 
were able to scatter our force, such as it was. This was 
because the people had not been trained ; they had not got the 
necessary training, and it was necessary to get the people, in 


my mind, to distinguish between the twofold character of the 
priest — the clergymen of all classes — to distinguish between 
their temporal and spiritual character. "We have invariably 
inculcated upon our friends the duty of giving obedience and 
submitting in all devotion to their clergy in their spiritual 
character, but that in their temporal character they were simply 
to look upon them as citizens. (Vociferous cheering.) Without 
this training you never could have a force in Ireland on whom 
3'ou could reply. "We then made the oath a condition of mem- 
bership, and we have continued to make it so. It shall not be 
changed. (Cries of "Good.") The first instalment of the 
money sent to me from America (£90), I received on the 17th of 
March, 1858. The second instalment was to have reached me a 
month from that; but the months of April, May, and June, went 
by without my receiving anything. Then, tlie second time, I had 
to send out my trusted friend to America to state the case. The 
report he brought to New York was favorably received ; but 
as there was no organization in America at the time, he found it 
very difficult to get the necessary funds. These came to me in 
small instalments. I continued to work, however, drawing on 
the resources of my friends at home in Ireland ; for I want to 
make you understand that for every dollar contributed in this 
country, men at home have contributed ten. (Great cheering.) 
Finding, about the month of September, that the promise made 
to me remained unfulfilled, and knowing that I had organized 
more than ten times the force I had undertaken to organize, I 
felt the necessity of coming to America to lay the foundation of 
our work here. In September, 1858, I arrived in New "York, 
and had a great many difficulties to contend with here. But of 
these difficulties I do not care to speak at length now, though, 
if necessary, I shall make them all known to you, but not now. 
I have too many other points to touch upon. At length, how- 
ever, I was allowed to go to work in America, and the first man 
I enhsted in the organization, or one of the first, was General 
Corcoran. (Cheers.) At that time the organization in America 
was a secret society, as it was in Ireland. It has been found 
politic to change it in that regard since ; it has been changed ; 
but whether for the better or not the future can only tell. I 
travelled through the States and laid the foundation of this 
organization. On my return to New York a document was 
drawn up conferring upon me the supreme control of this organ- 
ization, at home and abroad (cheers) ; in America as well as in 
Ireland and England, and in Australia — everywhere our race 
can be found — from that day out. It was only after a residence 
of from two to four months in the States I was allowed to go to 
work, and, as they were impatient for me to return to Ireland, 
I had only a month to devote to the work of organization in 
this city, and I had no time at all to collect any amount of funds 
or arms, or what we needed in Ireland ; but all these things were 


promised to me. However, they did not come. I believe this is 
one of the points upon which you want information — the amount 
of support we in Ireland have received from here from the be- 
ginning of the organization. Well, then, to be brief, during the 
first six years of the organization in America, we in Ireland re- 
ceived from you about one thousand live hundred pounds. I have 
come to America to establish harmony in this organization, and 
woe to the man who says or does anything to prevent that. 
(Great cheering.) Let there be no cries against Doran Killian or 
John O'Mahony, against G-eneral Sweeny or Colonel Roberts ; let 
there be no cries here to-day against any man. If you have come 
in a spirit of brotherhood, well; if not, woe to you and woe to Ire- 
land. (Sensation.) Let every man who has come here to day, 
if such be here, for the purpose of creating dissension and discord 
in our ranks — to widen the breach unhappily existing — let that 
man go home from here — let him go home. (Cheering). This is 
no place for him ; let him go to England, that is the place for 
him — (cheers) — let him go to the British Ambassador ; there he 
will be received; but let him not stand herewith Irishmen who 
have sworn to free their land or die. (Great cheering.) I, for 
my single self, have had my troubles. I have been infinitely 
more tried by my friends than by my foes; the men wlio used to 
call themselves my friends and the friends of Ireland, have proved 
deadlier enemies to Ireland and me than British tyranny could 
ever do. But I must not anticipate. I speak to you in a spirit 
of brotherhood. I want to have you united, I want to have all 
our race come into the work, like brother Irishmen and patriots, 
and any man or body of men who prevents union, I here, to-day, 
in the face of you all, and in the name of Ireland, brand them as 
traitors to Ireland and enemies to our race. (Tremendous cheer- 
ing.) Our motto to-day shall be union. (Continued cheering.) 
Each man among us must give up selfishness and shortsighted 
opinions and come into the great brotherhood. You can all do 
it. (Cheering.) You are the people, you are the power ; you 
can make the men, you can direct the men, you can force them 
into the right way and prevent them going astray from it. 
(Cheers.) The duty is upon you to-day, and you must do it. 
(Cheers and cries of "We will.") To come back to my narrative 
— for it is merely a narrative, and I mean it to be so, rather than 
a speech — for the first six years after this organization, as I said, 
we in Ireland received in all about £1,500. We were driven al- 
most back upon our resources, and I am sorry that we did not 
trust to our own resources alone — that we ever looked to Ame- 
rica for anything whatever. For, from the spirit of dissension that 
sprang up, the amount of calumny, misrepresentation, bad feeling, 
bad blood and scandal that was indulged in in this organization, 
shame was brought upon us all over the world, and it can only 
be blotted out by the redemption of Ireland. (Cheers.) About 
the year 1863 I found there remained to me three courses to pur 



sue. I had almost despaired of getting anything done from thia 
side, and it seemed to me at home that we were bound to make 
another effort. We had then one of the best men the people 
knew in Ireland. I sent him out here with a statement of affairs. 
That man has since been condemned to twenty years' penal ser- 
vitude; he is now a 'felon,' with felon's clothes, doing felon's 
work, obliged to associate with the assassin, the burglar, the 
scoundrel, with the scum of the earth, and placed by British law 
on the same level with those criminals. He was my trusted 
friend, a trusted Irishman in the cause of Ireland — learned, 
patriotic, and accomplished. He was of a trusting nature, and be- 
lieved the representations made to him here in America. He 
wrote home in great heart to his friends, all of whom his letter 
cheered except myself His letter brought no cheer to me, 
for from wliat I had already heard I knew his mission would be 
a failure. I knew that from his first letter to me. That was the 
first course open to me — to send this man to America upon the 
people's work. His mission was a failure. The next course open 
to me was to establish a newspaper in Ireland and get for it as 
wide a circulation as possible, and devote its proceeds to the or- 
ganization. You must know that greater difficulties arise in rais- 
ing money in Ireland than in this country. I will not give the 
poverty of the people as a reason for this. Poor as the people of 
Ireland are to-day, if I could have one month's tour there, 
as I could in these States, I would raise as much money as 
would free Ireland. But I was not free to move about Ireland. 
It was necessary for me, as head of this organization, to travel 
with caution, and it was because I did so I was able to escape 
from arrest so long. But in a short time I received sufficient 
money to establish the Irish People^ of which you have heard a 
great deal. Towards the establishment of that paper I got no 
assistance whatever, as every obstacle was put in the way of its 
circulation, and it became dangerous for a seller to sell it, or a 
purchaser to buy it ; for the government were \Vatching the sale 
of the pajj'u-r. The landlords and employers, having a large num- 
ber of people as their dependents, brought their influence to bear, 
and I am sorry to add that the clergy set their faces against the 
paper, so that it was difficult to effect a large circulation. The 
Chicago Fair was announced, and shortly after, an Irishman who 
did good service in the cause of Ireland, was deputed to go from 
Chicago to Ireland to represent the state of affairs to us. Ostensi- 
bly he went to buy goods for the fair, and receive what we contri- 
buted ; but in reality came and represented that nothing could 
save the organization from ruin but my presence in America, and 
the committee in Chicago were anxious that I should come, else 
the organization would fall to the ground. In this narrative I am 
omitting many details, because I wish to speak in a spirit of con- 
ciliation, and I do not wish to let one word fall from my lips to 
hurt any man. If any word of mine should hurt him by chance 


I beg bis pardon beforehand, and say that I did not mean it. I 
carae to the States. The gentleman alluded to is Mr. Henry 
Clarence McCarty. I asked him, among other things, if the 
entire pro-eeds of the fair would be placed in my hands for ser- 
vice in the cause of Ireland, and on his representations and pro- 
mises I came a second time to the States. I promised my friends 
in Ireland, on my arrival in New York, to send them £100; on 
my arrival in Chicago, another £100, and in a week after my arrival 
in Chicago, £1,000. The £100 was sent from Xew York, accord- 
ing to promise; then another £100, and £1,000 from Chicago. 
Por a considerable time I could receive no more money. There 
was a State convention liold in Chicago at that time, and Mr. 
O'Mahony attended it as well as the centres of the Western States. 
Mr. O'Mahony, on being called on to say what was the strength 
of the Fenian Brotherhood at that time in America, stated that he 
could not claim more than ten thousand in it. As my object in 
coming to the States was to collect money and receive arms in 
order to bring the movement to a close as soon as possible, I felt 
that with so small a basis I could not effect my purpose. I felt 
that in Cliicago on that night, and I continued to feel it for eight 
or ten days as I went through the States — tlirough towns of Illi- 
nois — and it was only when I got to St. Louis that I began 
to see my way, and felt that if put in proper working order the 
organization would realize all my expectations in a short time. 
And here I may say, that we never required much. Those peo- 
ple who told you that I came over for two hundred thousand, or 
fifty thousand, or twenty thousand men, or one-half that number, 
knew very little about me, and still less about Ireland. (Cheers.) 
At that time we would have been perfectly satisfied with a few 
men. All we then wanted was war material. On my return to 
New York, I had certain changes to propose, which were, in ray 
opinion essential to success First, I deemed it necessary that 
Mr. O'Mahony should have a deputy Head Centre, an able busi- 
ness man, who could make good certain defects in Mr. O'Mahony, 
for Mr. O'Mahony was ahva3's opposed to making direct appeals 
for money, and it was absolutely necessary that these appeals 
should be made. He was also not disposed to go to strange parts 
of this continent when invitations were not forthcoming. The in- 
vitations did not come. Certain other changes I deemed neces- 
sary, and these changes effected an extraordinary improvement, 
which very soon became visible in the organization. That which 
had real effect on the people of this continent was, I believe, the 
statement I made to them in 1864. That statement was 
to the effect that the organized force at that time in Ireland 
was sixty thousand men, just six times the strength of 
your legal, open organization in America; and I made the 
engagement that if England went to war that year on the 
Danish question, we should take the field, but that whether 
England went to war or not, we should take the field iu 1865 


"What the people wanted here as well as in Ireland was a fised 
time for action, and not to be dragged on, as they had been for 
years, without knowing when the time for action would come. 
To the statement then made, much of the progress made is to 
be attributed. On my return to Ireland I found that the work 
was in a very good state, and the report that I brought back 
from America set the people at work still harder. But still the 
war did not take place. England fought shy, as she has often 
since the establishment of our organization. She did not go to 
war on the Danish question, and we had then one year more to 
wait. You held your Cincinnati convention, and about that 
time I vn-ote, stating the requirements of Ireland, and asking 
for the months of January, February, and March, £1,000. I 
stated I would require for the month of April, £1,000 alone, 
and for the months of May, June, July, and August, about 
£2,500 per month. The money for January, February, and 
March was sent to me — about £1,000. Another £1,000 was 
sent to me hi April, but I did not get the second instalment tUl 
the middle of May, and of the money for May, June, July, and 
August, I got none. Instead of getting the money I asked for, 
and which would have enabled ns to take the field last year, 
two gentlemen were appointed here to go to Ireland to investi- 
gate our work. They were perfectly satisfied with the state of 
affairs in Ireland. They sent over a very favorable report, ancZ 
asked for money to be sent back to us. It was agreed on at 
that time that the bonds of the Irish republic should be issued 
upon their returq. It was calculated we should have all that 
was requisite by the close of the year. It so happened that one 
of the delegat'^s, while in Ireland, lost certain documents. This 
was Mr. Meehan. (There was som? hissing when Mr. Meehan's 
name was mentioned.) ITow, I don't wish to say one word 
disparagingly of him to-day; neither do I wish that any frieud 
of mine should do so ; but while desirous of not saying anything 
against him, it is necessary that the fact should be known that 
the loss of these documents was the immediate occasion of the 
arrests in Ireland. (Groaning.) I have myself written against 
him, and if I have wronged him I would be very happy to make 
ample reparation if he will only favor me with a visit. (Cheers.) 
I have sent invitations to all those gentlemen — G-eneral Sweeny, 
Mr. Eoberts and Mr. Meehan — to all of those gentlemen to come 
and see me ; but very few of them have come, I am sorry to 
say. The fault, however, has not been mine. I have made all 
the advances compatible with my sense of duty and of dignity. 
"Well, the arrests were made, and the government said triumph- 
antly that all was over in Ireland. But so far from it, never 
was harder work and more work done in Ireland than immedi- 
ately after the arrests. I was free myself, and while free I am 
not used to be idle. (G-reat cheering.) Immediately afterwards, 
the government saw the necessity of proclaiming every county 


in Ireland, one after the other, because they felt that the work 
was going on stronger than ever, and that the only thing we 
wanted was arms and munitions of war, and these were coming 
into the country, and they could not prevent their coming in. 
They saw that the men who were serving the cause of Ireland 
were able to baffle them, and that the men got in what they re- 
quired. What they were able to do then, they are able to do 
now. Don't allow yourselves to be bUnded upon that subject, 
nor let yourselves be persuaded by any one that we can't get 
the means into the countr}-. It has been all a question of 
money With the requisite funds we can get in whatever ma- 
terials we wish, and men too, if we require them. My opinion 
on this subject ought to be more than the opinions of the people 
who have not seen Ireland since the greenness of their youth, 
and who know next to nothing of Ireland. (Cheers.) My 
friends were arrested, and you know how they conducted them- 
selves. The bearing of those prisoners has not been surpassed 
by the bearing of any men in history, under similar circumstances. 
And they bore all this because tliey still had faith — faith in the 
organization which they knew to be so powerful at home, and 
also faith that the promises so often made to them, and so 
solemnly made upon this side, would be kept. When the coun- 
ties had been proclaimed, the British press — and how am I to 
designate that press ? — I beheve it to be the vilest in the world, 
unless it be that foul press of Irelaud, which may fairly be de- 
signated the journalistic excrements of England — that vile press 
then began to boast that the organization was suppressed in Ire- 
land. But only a few weeks afterwards the Lord Lieutenant 
wrote the precious letter whicli you must have all read, calliug 
on the government to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act. You 
know the wholesale arrests that were made after the suspension 
of the Habeas Corpus. They thought to make the world believe 
that we were suppressed then at least, and that was their third 
attempt. But I can tell you now that the organization in Ire- 
land to-day is stronger than it ever had been, in numbers, dis- 
cipline, and in all the requirements of an army, save only in 
war material. The organization in Ireland, towards the close of 
last year, numbered two hundred thousand men. and of that 
force, fifty thousand were thoroughly drilled, with a large pro- 
portion of men who had seen war and smelt powder on the battle- 
field — a large proportion of veterans, in short; fifty thousand 
were partly drilled men, and the other hundred thousand quite 
undrllled. But if there be a man among you who thinks that fifty 
thousand Irishmen thoroughly drilled, with fifty thousand others 
partly drilled, would not make a force sufficient to meet ami;hing 
that England could bring against us, then indeed iio is wofuUy 
ignorant of the resources of England. What army could be 
brought against Ireland by England? What is the military 
force of England at present ? There are some twenty thousand 


English, troops in Ireland at present, and it would take England 
from thirty to forty days to concentrate a force of thirty to forty 
thousand men in Ireland. It would take her three months at 
least to concentrate a force of seventy thousand, and it is not 
likely she would be ever able to concentrate a larger force. Of 
our forces we could concentrate in Ireland, at four or five given 
points, one hundred thousand men in twenty-four hours. 
(Tremendous cheering.) All we wanted in Ireland from the 
middle of September to the end of December was arms to put 
into the hands of our men. The men were there, and only 
wanted the arms. But, in tlie very hour of our strength, there 
came to Ireland the melancholy news of your disruption here. 
StiU we held on. We did not think it possible that any body of 
men on this continent could be found that would withhold from 
Ireland in that supreme hour of her need the succor which they 
had promised to give us ; and it was because 1 could not bring 
myself to believe this that I had made up my mind to get myself 
arrested, even if the English authorities had not succeeded in 
doing so ; for I felt myself bound to action last year, and I 
thought you would feel bound to it here, if I devoted myself so 
far as to accept a prison voluntarily, and that by going into 
prison you on this side would be driven to give us what we 
wanted. However, before the time I had decided for putting it 
into execution I heard nothing favorable from this side, and the 
government found out my residence and I was arrested. I sup- 
pose you would all like to know how I got out of prison. 
(Tremendous enthusiasm.) Well, it did not require any extra- 
ordinary effort on my part, for with the force of true hearts that 
were around that prison in Dublin it would not have been possi- 
ble for the government, though the walls had been of adamant, 
and though it had regiments stationed within those walls, to 
keep me there. (G-reat cheering.) To my friends in Dublin, then, 
I refer you for the manner in which I effected my escape. That 
was the time of our greatest power in Ireland, and if, at any 
time between the 24th of ISTovember and the end of December, 
you had sent to Ireland a small force, or only a few superior offi- 
cers with the necessary war material, I do believe, as firmly as in 
my own existence, that Ireland would be an independent country 
to-day. But you know what took place. However, my mind was 
made up not to leave Ireland, and so I remained for nearly four 
months in Dublin city after my escape from prison. At length 
I had an invitation from Mr. O'Mahony and others to come to 
this country, for the organization, it was said, required my 
presence here. 

The evening after the reception of this invitation, I called some 
of my most trusted friends around me to hold a council, to see, 
before I determined on starting for America, if something might 
not be done at home even without your assistance. It was de- 
dermined ou that night, even without asking for xaj voice, to 


defer action yet awhile. It was then and then only that I de- 
termined on coming to the States. Once determined on I set 
about its execution, or rather my friends set about its execution, 
for I was in their hands, and indeed it is to them and not to any 
effort of my own that everything is due. This departure from 
Ireland was much more difficult and much more full of incident 
than the escape from prison. But I do not care to dwell on it 
now. I want to come to the object of my mission to America. 
You know by this time that it is to reconcile the parties here 
and to effect a union — such a complete union as would give us 
very speedily all that we want for the freedom of our land. I 
found the organization here torn asunder, and, as already said, 
all sorts of bad feeUng among the members. But I still beheve 
that, from what the people have shown to me since my arrival 
ifi the States, I can effect enough for all our purposes. (Cheers.) 
Tt wUl give me the greatest possible pleasure, and it will give 
Ireland great pleasure, and the men who are now pining in 
prison, and the men who are standing in the face of all difficul- 
ties at home ; it will give them infinite pleasure to see the heads 
of the sections coming into this organization united once more. 
(Cheers.) As already said, I have made advances for that pur- 
pose, and so far as I recollect I have not as yet let fall one 
single word that could fairly hurt any of these gentlemen. I 
did expect that Mr. Roberts would have acted like Mr. O'Mahony. 
I believe it was patriotic and wise of Mr. O'Mahony to have given 
in his resignation, and I believe it would be patriotic and wise 
of Mr. Roberts to do the same; and if Mr. Roberts and Mr. 
O'Mahony passed on this platform to-day, forgiving one another, 
forgetting the past, stretching forth the hand of brotherhood one 
to the other, and calling on the men to work together — if they 
had been here to endorse me, I believe that the organization 
would have in a single month ten times the power it ever had, 
and that the liberty of Ireland would be a certain thing. 
(Toices, Down with theml pitch them overboard!) 

Me. Stephens (emphacically) — I have already called on you 
not to say a word hurtful to anyone. I have a great respect for 
Mr. Roberts and Mr, O'Mahony, and for every man till he is proved 
to be dishonest, and, once proved to be dishonest, I am then done 
with him for ever. But nothing of the kind has been proved 
against any of these gentlemen, so you have no right to hoot at 
them, no matter who may have set you on. Here, publicly and 
before the Irish people, I once more in a friendly and fraternal 
spirit invite these gentlemen — the heads of all parties — to come 
to me while I remain in New York, and endeavor to come to 
an understanding. I call on the Irish people here and through- 
out the world — for I believe the words I pre aounoe, however 
simply spoken, wdl be read wherever our race can be found — I 
call, then, on our whole race to rise up against the man or body 
of men who would stand between Ireland and this essential 

112 • JAMES STEPHE1\'S. 

union to-day. I appeal to you by all you hold dear, by the 
memory of that land so fair, so full of sorrows, and yet so 
stedfast, so resolute, so pure, and enlightened as it is to- 
day. For I claim for Ireland at this hour more true repub- 
Hcan principles and lights than are to be found in the same 
number of people in any country on earth, (Cheers.) And if 
there be more anywhere else, it must be on this repub- 
lican .continent. But certainly, I do say this, and I say it de- 
liberately — for I know that these words will be read in 
France and in other lands that are so very dear to me, for 
France I do love. (Prolonged and enthusiastic cheering.) 
I say that not even there nor in any other land in Europe is 
there so much republican intellect as in Ireland. I say that we 
are well worthy of liberty, and that we are able to win it, if you 
do not deceive, or rather if you do not disappoint us in any way. 
In fact I might let the first word stand, for indeed if you disap- 
point us then you wiU truly betray us. You must disappoint 
and betray us if you are not united. This unity of action is the 
grand essential to-day ; you must labor for that, think of nothing 
else but that, and don't rest till you have effected it. (Cheers.) 
Countrymen and friends of Ireland, for very important reasons 
I shah not extend my address to you to-day, but through the 
press and elsewhere you will hear of me again. The last words 
I shall say to you now will be but a repetition of what I have 
already said. Without unity we cannot have what we require, and 
you cannot fulfil your promises to Ireland ; the Irish people are 
sure to be disheartened and dispirited ; the organization is sure 
to be broken up, and an eternal stain wiU rest upon our charac- 
ter ; but, worst of all, the whole Irish race is sure to be exter- 
minated. (No, no.) It is certain that the Irish people wiU be 
driven from the soil of Ireland if you do not free her. If there 
is not union I believe the whole movement will end in failure, 
and then the doom of your race will be sealed. Beheving, then, 
that union is the great want of the present time, I have in many 
ways cut short this address to avoid any remark that might be 
considered fairly hurtful to any man. Once more, I repeat, I 
stretch forth my hand to any man who may come to effect this 
union ; and I call on you now, in the name of Ireland, to allow 
no man to stand in the way of this unity. (Cheers.) Effect it, 
and as sure as I address you here to-day we shall take the field 
in Ireland this very year, and by effecting it we will have a free 
land. Brothers, as my object to-day is to endeavor to effect 
this unity, I deem it wise that no other gentleman should ad- 
dress you on this occasion." 

Mr. Stephens then retired from the front of the 
platform amid deafening cheers and waving of flags 


and banners. During the delivery of the above ad- 
dress, which occupied about an hour and a quarter, 
the crowd listened with unusual attention and eager- 

The address was not intended as an oratorical 
display at all, but merely as a plain unostentatious 
statein.ent of facts, which should disabuse the brother- 
hood here, and the outside public, of some most erro- 
neous notions they had imbibed with regard to the 
condition of affairs in Ireland, and especially con- 
cerning the amount of pecuniary aid that had been 
received from America. It answered its purpose 
admirably, and was received with great satisfaction 
by all those who had the most right to demand in- 
formation, and who were the most deeply interested. 

Mr. Stephens then proceeded to carry out his 
plans for cementing the fractured organization, which 
he and his advisers had arranged. It was thought 
best that he should make an extended tour through- 
out the country, addressing the brotherhod and the 
citizens everywhere, and making such expositions of 
Irish policy as it might be prudent to make public. 
Before proceeding on the trip to the more distant 
points, it was decided to deliver addresses in the 
cities nearer the great commercial metropolis. Ac- 
cordingly, Mr. Stephens visited New Haven, New- 
ark, Brooklyn, and other near-by places, in each of 
which towns he made a telling speech, being every- 
where received with great enthusiasm, and many 
good wishes and promises of material aid. His ora- 
tion was generally announced as an exposition of 
the " State and Necessities of the Cause of Ireland at 
Home and Abroad." 



In Brooklyn, and also at a second large meeting 
in New York, Mr. Stephens adopted a novel mode of 
giving to the public the information so much sought 
for in regard to the condition of Ireland and the 
Fenian difficulties. After speaking to his audiences 
for a time, he requested any individual to ask him 
questions, promising to answer truthfully and fully 
any and all except such as would bring to grief the 
brave men at home. The following questions and 
answers are the most important ones elicited at 
thesg^ia?2ce5 .* 

Q. — Do you think it possible to secure the Hbertj of Ireland 
without a fleet ? 

Mr. Stephens. — I believe it practicable to break the English 
power in Ireland without one ship. If I did not believe tliis, I 
should not be here speaking in belialf of Ireland. We have the^ 
power witliin ourselves to conquer our freedom. 

Q. — Has the American Consul in Ireland done anything to- 
wards obtaining the release of American citizens arrested- there 
for being connected with the Fenian movement ? 

Mr. Stephens. — The Consul has given the utmost dissatisfac- 
tion to every Irishman, and has lowered the dignity of the Ame- 
rican Government in Ireland. He should be brought to a strict 
account for his conduct. 

Q. — Does John Mitchel agree with your views regarding Ire- 

Mr. Stephens. — So far as I know, yes. He thinks we ought 
to wait till late in the year before fighting; but he knows nothing 
of the organization in Ireland, not having been there for eighteen 

Q. — "Was it through your influence that P. J. Meehan escaped 
assassination from the Irishmen in Ireland ? 

Mr. Stephens. — I have to say, that on tliree different occa- 
sions he was saved from a traitor's death by my influence. There 
ia not a man in Ireland who does not believe that Mr. Meehan 
knew when and where he lost the documents. Those documents, 


simple in themselves, were the immediate cause of the arrests ia 
Ireland last year. 

Q. — Please to explain the nature of the documents lost by 
Meehan, and the people compromised? 

Mr. Stephens. — That is as easy as A, B, C. The nature was 
that I was addressed as the C. 0. I. R. (Sensation.) The British 
Government acknowledged that they could not have taken one 
step but for the discovery of those documents. They were the 
real cause of the arrests in Ireland. The British could not de- 
pend on Nagle ; the Attorney-General said they had nothing cer- 
tain till they received those documents. (A voice — "But only 
three men were mentioned.") 

Mr. Stephens. — That was enough to cause all the arrests; 
they found out that they could learn more from the office of the 
Irish People, and so seized it. 

Q. — Hasn't Napoleon III. the key of England in his pocket 
to- day? 

Mr. Stephens. — Napoleon III. has been likened to the Sphynx, 
and the secret of his great power lies in the fact that he keeps 
his mind to himself. 

Q. — Is Mr. Roberts in favor of a union of the Brotherhood ? 

Mr. Stephens. — Mr. Roberts is inclined, I am informed and 
believe, to look at things in a right way; to abandon ruinous 
projects ; to do all he can to effect a reconciliation. 

Q. — Did you not save the life of Sullivan Goula, whom Gen. 
Sweeny has lately cited to prove his popularity in Ireland? 

Mr. Stephens. — But for an order issued by me and reiterated, 
that man would have died had he a hundred lives. Unfortu- 
nately Mr. Sweeny knows nothing of Ireland, not having been 
there for many years, or he would not refer to such men to prove 
his popularity, 

Q — "We here have subscribed one million of doUars ; what has 
become of it all ? 

Mr. Stephens. — I can only answer for what has been received 
by me, and the total sum received in eight years is less than 
£30,000. The Executive Committee will give you their report 
of what has become of the rest in a few days. 

Q. — Are Schotield and Nagle alive yet ? 

Mr. Stephens. — I think it just as well to leave a little mystery 
about these matters. Scoundrels of this nature will always re- 
ceive their deserts. There is a determined spirit in Ireland to 
mete out to traitors a traitor's doom. 

Q. — Have the men of the North (outside of those who are pledged 
to the Crown) shown any disposition to stand up for liberty ? 

Mr. Stephens. — The men of the North are second to no men 
in Ireland to-day. 

Q. — Is there a prospect of union ? 

Mr. Stephens. — Some of the leaders are in favor of a reconcilia- 
tion, and others will not have union at any price. I believe, 


however, that ere long we shall have a union of the masses, 
regardless of the leaders. 

Q.— Do you think that the French people are in favor of the 
Fenian movement ? 

Mr. Stephens. — The French people love liberty wherever 

Q. — What amount of army equipments did you get at Union 
Square, and how mucli do you want ? 

Mr. Stephens. — A fair and full answer to that question would 
be tantamount to the loss of my documents. I shall take all I 
want, and more if I can get them. 

Q. In view of the obligation of our oath of naturalization and 
the rights and privileges American citizensliip confers on us, is it 
good for our race, or in accordance wilh the plighted oath we 
have given to America, to cross the border and make war on the 
people of Canada ? 

Mr. Stephens. — It would be ruinous to our race. I believe 
that in acting in such a manner as to compromise this country 
you will be committing a crime. "We have only to unite and 
have faith in ourselves, and we can do our own work without the 
help of even so good a friend as America. "We must not com- 
promise any country in our struggle. In regard to the oath, I 
believe it would be a violation of it for you who have taken it to 
cross into Canada. 

Q. — Can you get artillery into Ireland ? If not, can you fight 
without it ? 

Mr. Stephens. — I will undertake to get all the munitions of 
war we want into Ireland, in spite of all the watchfulness of Eng- 
land, if you will only give them to us. After a few days' fight- 
ing we should have several parks of artillery in our possession. 

Q. — Do you think that the fact of a man emigrating to Ame- 
rica absolves him from his oath as an I. R. B. ? 

Mr. Stephens. — I believe the oath to be binding on the soul of 
the man who takes it — to be binding until he dies or Ireland is 

Q. — Can England claim the allegiance of a former subject who 
has been naturalized here ? 

Mr. Stephens. — England claims the allegiance of every man 
born on her soil, no matter whether he has become a citizen of 
any other country or not. The moment any one of you lands on 
Irish soil, England claims you for her own. 

Q. — Did O'Mahony send all the money to you that was col- 
lected here by subscriptions and otherwise ? 

Mr. Stephens. — I cannot say how much of it I received. If 
you had several men collecting money at the same time, you 
would find it difficult to tell how much they got. 

But, said a voice, O'Mahony blames the Senate for holding back 
the money. How's that ? 

Mr. Stephens. — O'Mahony and the Senate and all held back 


the mouev and spent it for conventions, mansions, and other such 
fooUsh matters. 

Q. — A lover of the ladies desires to know if the girls at home 
are trumps in the cause of Ireland ? 

Mr. Stephens. — The girls at home are not only trumps in the 
cause, but are the ace of hearts itself 

This novel method of arriving at the truth gave 
the utmost satisfaction to all parties, the questions 
eliciting facts which would not naturally have been 
touched upon in the course of a speech. 

Mr. Stephens' work in America is not yet com- 
plete, but at this date bids fair to bring forth good 
fruit. If integrity of purpose, long suffering in the 
cause, and many noble sacrifices for the cause, de- 
serve success, then will he be successful. His coun- 
trymen at home look to him as their deliverer, en- 
trusting him with the destinies of their country, 
their fortune, and their lives. Let no Irish- American 
withhold from him that support which he solicits in 
the name of Erin's Green Isle. 



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